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Understanding Drug-Related Charges In California


Drug evidence in California: Handcuffs, cash, and drugs displayed - The Law Office of Derek R. EwinIn this article, you will discover:

  • The different types of penalties for drug-related charges.
  • Some possible defense strategies for drug-related charges.
  • Why hiring a California defense attorney is your best option.

Is The Sale Or Distribution Of Drugs In California Charged As A Misdemeanor Or A Felony?

In the state of California, there are different classifications for different drugs. Marijuana sales are treated as a misdemeanor now in California. Most other drug sales are treated as a felony. In the Bay Area specifically, distribution is referred to as a possession for sale or sale of a controlled substance.

It can be terrifying when facing any type of drug offense charge. While your best bet would be to get a drug defense attorney, it would serve you well to also do some research on your own. This way, you’ll have better questions to ask your lawyer.

How Does The Amount And Type Of Drug Impact The Charge?

The amount and type of drug you have in your possession impacts the charge you receive. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller your amount, the less serious the charge. Keep in mind that the type of drug also matters. While Marijuana is often treated as a misdemeanor, a larger amount could result in higher penalties.

With a lesser amount of a controlled substance, very often, you can have your charge reduced to a simple possession case rather than a possession for sale or sales case. This can happen either by way of a plea or by a lack of evidence of intent to sell. It is much easier for the DA to prove a possession for sale or sales case when there is more of the controlled substance.

What Are The Penalties For Drug Distribution In Contra Costa, California?

Typically, in marijuana cases, the penalty would be misdemeanor probation. In some circumstances, you may get a diversion. A diversion defers the misdemeanor charges for a certain amount of time.

During this period, if you stay out of trouble and meet other requirements, the case could potentially be dismissed. In this way, diversion can allow you to get some sort of rehab or other help.

For other drugs, we can negotiate the case down to a straight possession case rather than a sales case. Again, this depends on the facts of your case. Our firm believes every case should be handled with individual care as circumstances can vary widely, and no two cases are the same.

Generally, however, straight possession cases in California are treated as misdemeanors, and even those have the potential to receive diversion. On the other end of the penalty spectrum, you could end up with felony probation, jail time, or home detention time. Depending on the classification of drugs, prior convictions, and amounts, you can even go to prison on a sale or a possession for sale case.

It’s important to keep in mind that each case is different. There are a variety of nuances to consider with each one. Our firm makes sure to take the time to explain possible outcomes so that our clients are prepared for anything.

Will I Go To Jail Or Prison If I Was Arrested And Charged With First-Offense Drug Distribution In Contra Costa, California?

The odds are more in your favor on a first-time offense. However, that doesn’t mean the charge will be completely dismissed. Even still, it would have to be a really significant amount of controlled substance for you to serve any time at all.

Remember that serving time is always a potential outcome in any drug-related case. If you were to get convicted of the possession-for-sale case or the case of a sale in Contra Costa, a typical penalty would be jail or home detention. If you are convicted of possession, the penalty is often some sort of rehab.

If I Am Charged And Convicted Of Drug Distribution In California, Is There Any Way To Clear My Record?

If you get probation and you successfully complete probation, you can get your record expunged. This is a possibility regardless of whether the charge is a sale, possession for sale, or a simple possession case. This is called a civil dismissal.

A civil dismissal would hide the conviction from a normal background check and make it appear to be a dismissal. However, law enforcement and state licensing agencies would still be able to see that you had had the conviction in the past.

Although it can still be used against you in certain situations, we can typically mask a conviction, as long as it is a probation case. Prison cases are different. We cannot expunge prison sentences.

Can I Get Into Drug Court For Drug Distribution Charges In California?

There has been a reduction in the severity of drug charges in the last five or so years. Many cases have been reduced from felony possession cases down to misdemeanor possession cases. Most people don’t want to go to drug court on a misdemeanor because it’s almost harder.

Oftentimes, these cases will result in diversion. If you successfully completed rehab and stayed out of trouble, then the case would be dismissed. That’s very similar to drug court, but we no longer have a dedicated drug court.

What Are Defenses To Drug Distribution Charges In California?

Typically, defenses to drug distribution charges are the same as for any other offense. These are even more prominent in drug offense cases wherein the drug is not found on the person but instead discovered through a warranted search or a traffic stop.

A very common defense is ignorance, or claiming that you did not know the drugs were there. The prosecution has to prove that you knew they were there. For example, perhaps you borrowed a jacket from someone and inside that jacket was a controlled substance. Technically, you had possession of it, but you did not know it was there.

Another defense is that the substance in question wasn’t an illegal drug. Instead, it’s something else that’s made to look like a controlled substance or seem like one. If it’s not an illegal drug, you cannot get convicted of possession for sale or sale.

Finally, there is the intent defense. Did you intend to sell it, or did you intend to use it personally?

That’s a solid defense in possession for sale or sales types cases because if you can’t prove the sales, then it would just be a straight possession, which would be a misdemeanor.

Do I Need To Hire A California Drug Defense Attorney If I’m Going To Plead Guilty To My Drug Distribution Charge?

In California, judges won’t let you plead to a felony without talking to an attorney. While you technically have a right to represent yourself, judges typically don’t recommend it.

If you did want to represent yourself, you would have to go through a hearing to prove that you knew how to represent yourself. The reasoning behind this is due to all of the nuances. There are a wide variety of defenses to choose from. In addition, what you know regarding your case, how the court operates, and how the District Attorney’s office flows through all have an impact on the outcome of your case.

Many times, getting the right information to the right person can make your case either go away or get reduced. This is in contrast to pleading immediately, which wouldn’t give you any chance at either of those outcomes.

So hiring a California drug defense attorney would be a great idea, especially on a possession for sale or a sales case. Our firm already understands the laws and how they are applied, and as your dedicated defense attorney, we will learn the intricacies of your case to get the best outcome possible.

For more information on Facing Drug Related Charges In California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (925) 308-6444 today.

Derek R. Ewin - Criminal Lawyer, Walnut Creek City

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