Turn to California’s Top-Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help with Drug-Related Charges
The laws on drug-related crimes in California are constantly evolving as the state enacts criminal justice reforms. While many of these changes are good news for anyone accused or convicted of a drug-related crime, it can make it hard to keep up with the latest laws.
If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of drug possession, sale, use, or any other drug-related crime, Chambers Law Firm can help. As a former prosecutor, attorney Dan E. Chambers understands how the system works — and will use his experience to help you get the best possible outcome.
Learn more about California’s drug laws here. If you require additional guidance, contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 or email@example.com to schedule a free initial consultation.
There are many potential drug charges you could face
The California Health & Safety Code defines many different types of drug crimes, including:
- Possession—if you have any type of narcotic (such as cocaine, crack, heroin, ecstasy, meth, or opium) on your person or within your control, you could be charged with drug possession. This includes any prescription drug for which you do not have a legitimate prescription.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia—a prosecutor may file this charge if you have items associated with drug use, such as an opium pipe, needle, or cocaine spoon, in your possession.
- Possession forSale— if you have a sufficient quantity of an illegal drug and/or drugs packaged in such a way that indicates intent to sell (example: drugs packed in small amounts in little baggies), you could be charged with possession with intent to sell.
- Sale or Transportation—if you sell or transport illegal drugs into California, you may be charged with the sale or transportation of drugs.
- Manufacturing—anyone who manufactures or creates drugs, such as methamphetamine or PCP, could be charged with drug manufacturing.
- Use—if you are found to be under the influence of any illegal drug, or a legal prescription drug for which you do not have a prescription, you could be charged with drug use.
- DUI of Drugs—if you operate a motor vehicle while impaired by the use of any drug, you may be charged with a DUI of drugs.
Not all drug-related convictions lead to jail time
A conviction for a drug-related offense will not necessarily lead to jail time. Under Prop 36 and PC 1000, alternative sentencing options are available, such as drug court and drug diversion programs. These opportunities are available to defendants who are convicted of specific non-violent drug-related crimes. Upon the successful completion of a drug treatment program, the conviction itself can be set aside or dismissed in many cases.
Entrapment is a potential defense option but is difficult to prove
Entrapment is a potential defense in drug-related cases, particularly those involving drug sales. However, entrapment can be challenging to prove, as it requires demonstrating that a law enforcement officer (or an agent of the police) engaged in conduct that caused a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime.
Consider a situation where an informant came to you in tears and told you that if you did not buy cocaine from him, he wouldn’t be able to feed his children this week. If you would typically never buy drugs and you were swayed by his story, that may be considered entrapment. If you were a habitual cocaine user, then it would not be deemed entrapment.
Other types of entrapment may include coaxing, badgering, flattery, repeated requests, or an appeal to friendship. Establishing a defense of entrapment will depend on the specific facts of each case. A skilled drug crimes defense attorney can work with you if you have been charged with a California drug offense to analyze the facts and determine if an entrapment defense is possible.
It might be possible to have your drug conviction reclassified from a felony to a misdemeanor
Under both Prop 47 and Prop 64, this is a possibility for many Californians. Prop 47 reduced many drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, including Health and Safety Code sections 11350 (possession of certain controlled substances, usually cocaine), 11357 (possession of concentrated cannabis), and 11377 (possession of certain controlled substances, most commonly methamphetamine).
Prop 47 allows most people who have qualifying felony convictions in their past to petition the court to reclassify those convictions to misdemeanors. Petitions under Prop 47 must be filed by November 4, 2022.
Prop 64 legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and older. It also reduced the criminal penalties for most remaining marijuana offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and some misdemeanors to infractions.
The impact of Proposition 36
Proposition 36 is a criminal sentencing initiative that California voters approved in 2000. Prop 36 requires that eligible non-violent drug offenders be sentenced to a drug treatment program instead of jail or prison. Generally, the personal possession of drugs and being under the influence of drugs will qualify for participation in Prop 36. Crimes excluded from Prop 36 include the sale of drugs, and possessing drugs with a loaded, operable firearm.
There are other restrictions on eligibility for Prop 36 sentencing. For example, a person with prior “strike” convictions under California’s Three Strikes Law is ineligible with certain exceptions. Because the law is complex, working with an experienced drug crimes defense attorney will help you understand your options and how to best proceed. Consult Chambers Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.
Call now to find out which alternative sentencing options you might qualify for
There are two alternative sentencing schemes available for non-violent drug offenders in California: Prop 36 and PC 100. Prop 36 is available to a broader range of people, while PC 1000 has more significant restrictions on its use. If given a choice between the two programs, PC 1000 is the better choice. It results in an automatic dismissal after completion of the treatment program, whereas a judge has discretion on approving dismissal with Prop 36 sentencing. In addition, Prop 36 sentencing may require formal probation.
“Deferred entry of judgment” or “diversion” might be the best option for your drug case
Deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) or diversion is a mechanism that allows defendants charged with certain drug offenses to enter a guilty plea and then enter and complete a program. Once completed, DEJ or diversion allows the defendant to withdraw their guilty plea and have the case dismissed. The defendant can then state that they have never been convicted of a crime.
The program generally lasts about six months, and the defendant is eligible for dismissal in 18 months. Eligible offenses for DEJ include simple possession for personal use, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of a controlled substance. To take advantage of DEJ, the defendant must meet several criteria, such as no previous drug-related convictions, no prior felony convictions within the previous five years, and no previous grant of DEJ.
Drug Recognition Experts can be put in the hot seat
DRE is a Drug Recognition Expert. It generally refers to a police officer who has received special training in identifying someone under the influence of narcotics. They often testify in DUI of drugs cases to state that a driver was under the influence of drugs.
The designation is the subject of much controversy because the training received has certain flaws that can be exposed during cross-examination of that officer. DREs are not used in every county in California.
DUI for drugs charges can be complicated
Unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit for the amount of drugs that you can have in your system while behind the wheel. Although there are tests to determine the presence of drugs in your system (such as THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana), these tests do not analyze levels of impairment. However, if you have displayed behaviors that may lead law enforcement officers to believe that you are impaired by drugs, you may be charged with a DUI of drugs.
Get help from a drug crimes defense attorney today
If you have been charged with a drug-related offense in California, a skilled drug crimes defense attorney can assist you in several ways. First, your lawyer can analyze your case to develop defenses to the charges. This may include filing motions to potentially have the evidence suppressed if it was seized illegally.
Second, your attorney can use their experience to negotiate a favorable plea deal or a dismissal of the charges against you. Third, if you go to trial, your drug crimes defense attorney will aggressively defend you to hold the prosecution to its burden of proof. Fourth, if you decide to plead guilty, your lawyer can help you enter into an alternative sentencing program to help you get your life back on track.
The next step is to contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free legal consultation.