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California has made sweeping regulatory changes regarding drug charges. However, the state still reserves the right to prosecute certain drug crimes. As with other convictions, these charges can carry long sentences, probation, and fines, in addition to state-sanctioned rehabilitation programs and addiction recovery programs. An experienced drug crime attorney who can advocate for their client is required when facing these charges. For those in the Anaheim area, The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman can help.
Possession of drugs, sometimes referred to as "possession of a controlled substance," is usually a felony offense. However, it may only be charged as a misdemeanor offense in the case of some narcotics. To be found guilty of drug possession, the state must show that the defendant:
Possession can be divided into two categories: actual possession and constructive possession. Constructive possession can be achieved by storing the drug in a vehicle or home. Actual possession requires the defendant to have bodily control over the drug.
Narcotic "intent to distribute" can be demonstrated in criminal proceedings using either direct or indirect evidence. Law enforcement may occasionally have direct proof, such as the suspect's admission that he had narcotics to sell or that the defendant sold to a police officer working undercover. However, most cases focus on circumstantial evidence, such as scales, many baggies or bindles with drugs, or larger amounts of substances. The prosecution can support their claims with either direct or indirect proof. With the help of an expert criminal defense attorney, though, the claims made based on this type of evidence can be disproven in court.
Typically, the proof needed for conviction does not call for evidence that the unlawful narcotics were offered for sale. Even if it was not in return for anything of value, it is sufficient to demonstrate that the defendant knew to distribute or sell the drugs. Because of this, drug violations are sometimes referred to as drug possession with the intent to supply, distribute, or sell under the criminal laws of various states.
In California, offering to or transporting, providing, supplying, distributing, or selling illegal narcotics into the state is considered drug trafficking. The penalty may be increased in addition to the standard sentence if the offender transported drugs or other controlled substances that would cause the charge to be classified as a felony under the Controlled Substance Act. These include:
The sentencing for drug trafficking can be affected by:
Drugs in California are broken down into "schedules," which categorize them by type. Most of these classifications are based on or entirely adapted from the Federal Control Substances Act. This organizes substances based on their acknowledged medical utility weighed against their propensity for abuse and addiction. There are five schedules recognized in California, with Schedule I containing the most hazardous substances like heroin and Schedule V containing the least harmful medications.
The type, intent to sell, and any additional crimes being pursued during a drug crime conviction will affect whether the conviction will warrant a felony conviction. The penalties for a felony-level drug conviction include:
For example, if found guilty of felony drug possession with heroin, the penalty is five years in prison. However, for a felony drug trafficking charge with heroin, the penalty for a conviction can reach up to nine years in prison with up to $20,000 in fines.
A: California law contains rules that specify how searches and seizures should be conducted. If these regulations are broken, the case against the defendant may be dismissed. The case may be dropped if criminal means were employed to obtain evidence of drug sales, such as:
A: The sentence length for a first-time drug offense in California differs from case to case. The length of time someone is imprisoned for drug possession in California depends on several variables, including the substance in question and whether they are accused of "simple possession" or "possession for sale." The standard sentence for first-time misdemeanor drug offenses is one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.
A: The statute of limitations for drug offenses in California that could result in imprisonment is 3 years. According to California Penal Code 801, a crime must be prosecuted within three years of when it was committed. If a defendant leaves the state, the statute of limitations is suspended until they return. This may give the prosecution an additional three years to file their complaint, giving them a total of six years to press charges.
A: The amount of prison time necessary in these situations will ultimately depend on the substance involved. An ounce of marijuana is considered simple possession for personal use and carries a misdemeanor conviction and a fine of up to $100. However, if found in possession of a controlled substance like heroin or cocaine, felony charges of up to three years in prison are possible.
Proper representation in any drug-related arrest is crucial for those facing drug crime charges. In Orange County, The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman can provide expert criminal defense for those facing any drug crime indictments, ranging from simple possession to more serious charges like drug trafficking. For information on our practice, including a full list of our practice areas, visit our website and get in touch with us today.
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