Orange County Drug Crimes Lawyer
Whether you are facing drug charges in State or Federal Court, a case involving any amount of an illicit drug carries life-changing consequences. Drug cases ordinarily involve different resolutions which is why you need to retain an experienced and professional Orange County drug crimes lawyer to minimize the negative effects of a drug conviction.
Orange County has one of the most conservative prosecuting agencies in the state. However, recent revisions in the law have allowed certain drug offenders to participate in alternative sentencing programs and avoid prison or a blemish on their criminal record. These programs, however, are not always automatic and may require the need of a skilled attorney to work with the court and negotiate with the District Attorney. Avoiding a criminal record can the single most important factor in a case, especially for those who are seeking employment, housing, bank loans, or business.
Overview of Drug Charges in California
Drug charges are codified under California Health and Safety Code. Each type of drug and including the reason why it was possessed, fall within different sections. For instance, possession of methamphetamine falls within a different code section than possession of methamphetamine with the intent to sell.
- Possession of Methamphetamine – HS 11377
- Possession of Methamphetamine for Sale – HS 11378
- Possession of Heroin or Cocaine – HS 11350
- Possession of Heroin or Cocaine for Sale – HS 11351
- Manufacturing a Controlled Substance – HS 11379.6
- Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance – HS 11550
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – HS 11359
The difference between possession for sale versus personal use depends on several factors. The prosecutor need not prove you actually sold the substance, but that you possessed the substance with the intent of selling it. In many instances, the prosecutor has a drug expert testify and form the opinion that you harbored the intent to sell the substance based on several factors including:
- You had a large quantity of the substance beyond personal use.
- Police recovered pay-owe sheets, scales, and small baggies.
- You admitted to the police that you were going to sell the substance.
- A confidential informant observed you selling the substance or there was a controlled buy set up by police.
- You were in possession of a large amount of cash in small bills consistent with street sales.
Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer
It is not uncommon to be charged in state and federal court for the same drug offense. Penalties in federal court can be devastating and often carry a mandatory minimum sentence. The government has unlimited resources to ensure that an accused later stands convicted. Therefore, it’s imperative that you enlist the help of an experienced Orange County federal drug crimes lawyer if you’re facing federal accusations.
- Drug Trafficking & Distribution
- Racketeering or Drug Conspiracy
- Counterfeiting Prescription Drugs
Defending Drug Charges
Drug investigations often involve the use of a confidential informant who provides information to police to avoid responsibility for another crime. Ordinarily, police use the informant’s information to author a search warrant for your residence that subsequently leads to your arrest. Thus, the search warrant must be scrutinized to determine the informants’ reliability and credibility. Furthermore, the warrant must contain detailed information sufficiently to rise to probable cause. Any technicalities could lead to the dismissal of all charges as being an unlawful search.
Another way to attack drug charges is to contest the sales element. Moreover, a criminal lawyer may be able to create doubt that you harbored the intent to sell the substance based on the lack of indicia to prove it. For instance, you could be a heavy user which would explain a large amount of substance, or you could be in possession of a large sum of money from a legitimate source – e.g., family inheritance.
Knowledge is also a key element for every drug offense, whether it be sales or simple possession. The law will not punish someone who did not know there was a substance located in their residence or vehicle. For example, the substance could have been left by a recent passenger in your car, or the substance was discovered in your roommate’s bedroom without you knowing it was there.
Punishment & Sentencing
As noted earlier, drug convictions carry stiff penalties and often lead to life-long consequences. Simple possession is a misdemeanor but carries a jail sentence if convicted. However, most misdemeanor drug charges can result in a dismissal with the participation and completion of an outpatient drug treatment program.
On the other hand, any sales conviction is a straight felony that can expose you to a lengthy jail sentence. But there are programs and statutes available as an alternative to sentencing for drug offenders. Moreover, a drug offender may be eligible to participate in deferred entry judgment where the case will be dismissed upon successful completion of drug rehabilitation. These programs are not always available and usually require successful negotiations with the prosecutor from a skilled attorney.
Contact an Orange County Drug Crimes Lawyer
Drug laws and punishment are extremely complex. Thus, without proper guidance and experience from a drug defense lawyer, you could be exposing yourself to the unnecessary danger of failure, or defenses to your case could go amiss.
Having drug charges filed against you can be devastating – particularly if you’ve been wrongfully accused or there are additional circumstances or evidence outstanding that should be considered. We pride ourselves in conducting extensive investigations which often leads to successful results for our clients. To schedule your free confidential consultation with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney, contact us today.