SAN DIEGO DRUG POSSESSION ATTORNEY
Any drug possession, regardless of intent, is considered a criminal act in the state of California. However, simple possession is not always grounds for a conviction.
In a criminal drug possession case, state or federal prosecutors need to show beyond reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant knew the illicit nature of the substance, and
- The defendant had full knowledge that the substance was in his or her possession.
Having easy access to illegal drugs may also be considered possession. For instance, if you have a key to a storage locker filled with drugs, the prosecution may use that evidence to prove possession. Possessing paraphernalia like a bong could also be adequate evidence if substance residue is found. Furthermore, arrests for drug possession at concerts, driving your vehicle or even walking in a public street are all possible. Every case involves unique facts and circumstances that will determine the type of sentence you can receive and what the best outcome of your case may be.
HS-11350 Possession of a Controlled Substance
One factor that is important in the seriousness of your drug offense case is the quantity and type of the drugs involved in your case. Although the prosecution can bring a case based only on a useable quantity of drugs; possession of a few ounces is more serious than a few grams.
Many drug possession crimes are now classified as misdemeanors. The passage of Prop 47 reduced the seriousness of drug possession for methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin from felony type crimes. Possession of drugs, however, is still a serious misdemeanor that can involve jail time. Punishment can include jail custody or work release.
The prosecution must show that the drugs found actually belong to the defendant. Knowledge of the existence of the drug is another crucial part of any drug case. The quantity of drugs required to show guilt is very small. This is described as a useable quantity of the drug.
Did the Police Act Lawfully?
How did the police officer or detective come to discover that you were in possession of a controlled substance? Any search of a person, their home or vehicle requires a search warrant. This is a basic constitutional principle. An improperly granted search warrant or a police search that went beyond the scope of the warrant can be a defense to drug possession charges. Even when a person is arrested for drug possession without a warrant, the police must always show some reasonable cause for their actions. Simply going on a hunch is never a valid reason to search and arrest. Defendants must have their constitutional rights protected and unlawfully obtained evidence excluded.
DEFENSE STRATEGIES TO DRUG POSSESSION
No drug-related case is the same, though many may have similarities and may rely on case precedent in the courtroom. The individual circumstances of a case, such as a person’s criminal history or the details of an arrest, largely affect how an attorney will build a defense.
Some of the most commonly used defenses, either or alone or in some combination, include:
- Illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement officers are required to follow certain rules when they search a suspect’s home or vehicle. Only substances that were discovered during a legal search or were in plain sight can be admitted into evidence during court proceedings.
- Ignorance of the drugs. If you share a vehicle or a house with someone and had no knowledge of the possession of drugs, you may have a compelling defense strategy. Your attorney does not need to prove the drugs did, in fact, belong to a third party. He will only need to raise reasonable doubt that the substance was actually yours.
- Missing substances. The forensics system is far from perfect. In some cases, the substance seized at the time of an arrest may never make it back into the courtroom. Mislabeling or losing substances in the system could be grounds for having a case completely thrown out.
Other defense strategies may include proving entrapment, challenging lab analyses, and challenging false reports. The evidence and circumstances surrounding the case can cast doubt on charges that at first seemed very clear. Have a drug defense attorney who understands the drug laws in and around San Diego protecting your right to a fair trial, as drug possession cases are anything but clear-cut.
Being Convicted of Possession in California
California laws bring some of the harshest penalties for offenses involving drugs or controlled substances. Even with recent changes to the law relating to prop 47, drug possession can still impact the rest of your life. Possession of a controlled substance or illicit drug can have severe penalties for a person even when facing a first-time charge. The possession of certain drugs such like marijuana has fewer consequences than other drug possession. Simple possession of cocaine or methamphetamine will typically bring misdemeanor charges. However, for those with a previously clean record, the possibility of a misdemeanor record can ruin hopes for future careers and schooling.
Felony of Misdemeanor Drug Possession?
Although most cases of drug possession in California are now misdemeanors suffering an arrest can have an impact beyond one case. Individuals with prior drug arrests or those on probation for other charges can face significant jail time. Any person on probation is required to remain law abiding; this means that a drug possession arrest is a violation of probation.
Often a person can be accused of illegal possession of a controlled substance although they had a valid prescription for the drug. As long as your possession of the controlled substance was lawful and was following the purpose of the prescription then you are not in violation of the drug possession laws. Possession of another person’s prescription drugs or having an amount of drugs in excess of your prescription are considered criminal offenses.
Drug Possession Alternative Sentencing
Drug possession sentencing will offer a person the chance at drug diversion as an alternative to jail time. Non-violent drug offenders can serve their sentences by participating in PC1000 or Proposition 36 drug treatment programs. There are many limitations on those accused who want to be considered for drug diversion. Your prior criminal record and nature of the current offense are the most important factors a court will consider in granting alternative sentencing.
Our San Diego drug crime attorneys carefully examine and investigate all the evidence in your case and do not simply accept what is offered by the prosecution. Investigating and assembling a proper defense strategy unique to each client is the only way to get you the best result in your case. If you have been accused of drug possession, contact us today for more information. We are proud to offer Russian-speaking defense services to native speakers throughout the community.
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