If you have been arrested for drug possession, the first thing you should do is contact a skilled drug lawyer who can help you fight the charges you may be facing. It is important to realize that California drug possession laws can be rather complex and anything you say to police may be used against you. This means that by speaking to investigators without a criminal defense attorney present, you may accidentally make the charges against you more serious if you attempt to fight them in court. For example, a wrong slip of the tongue could easily make drug possession charges turn into possession with intent to sell charges. This is why you should always call an attorney as soon as you believe you may be accused of breaking any drug laws in San Diego, California.
San Diego Drug Charges are Serious
While many people think that the crime of drug possession is no big deal, it’s important to recognize that any criminal offense should be taken seriously as it can not only result in jail time but also leave you with a conviction on your criminal record which may hurt your chances of finding housing and gainful employment in the future. Minors are at particular risk when it comes to drug crimes because even a misdemeanor drug possession conviction can result in the loss of driving privileges for a full year. Some drug crimes, even simple possession charges, can even prevent you from qualifying for scholarships or certain forms of student aid, so even if the sentencing is minimal, it’s still important to do what you can to keep a drug conviction off of your record.
Potential Penalties for Drug Possession
Specific penalties for drug possession in San Diego will vary based on the drug in question and the quantity you were arrested with. For example, while possession of cocaine for personal use is a misdemeanor, possession of the “date rape drug” Rohypnol can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor based on the prosecutor’s discretion. If charged as a felony, this drug crime carry up to three years in prison under California law. Fortunately, most drug possession charges are covered by California Health and Safety Code 11350 (HS), which is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in a San Diego jail.
On the other hand, since marijuana has become legal for recreational use in the state, a person over the age of 21 (or over 18 with a valid prescription) can possess up to one ounce of flower or eight ounces of concentrates without running afoul of the law -though it is still a crime to possess the drug on federal property.
To understand the specific criminal penalties you may face in your specific case, you should discuss the case with your San Diego drug possession defense lawyer.
Charges Related to Possession of Drugs
It’s important to recognize that being in possession of a controlled substance while driving could open you up to other charges, including drug DUI, driving with an open marijuana container or driving while addicted to drugs. Many people are unaware that some of these activities are even against the law, so it’s important to refuse to speak with the police until you have spoken with a criminal defense attorney. For example, while you may have a legal prescription for an opioid, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of anything that affects your driving, so saying you have a prescription will only be used as evidence against you when you attempt to fight the drug DUI charge.
Also, if you have been caught with a firearm while in possession of certain drugs such as cocaine, PCP. methamphetamine or heroin, California law allows you to be charged with a separate felony punishable by up to four years in prison just for having these two things in your possession at the same time. You will also lose your right to possess or own firearms if you are convicted of this charge.
Fighting Drug Possession Charges
In some cases, a drug possession attorney may help you fight the offenses in court and avoid a criminal conviction. For example if you were only arrested after police illegally stopped and searched your vehicle and found you were in possession of drugs, the evidence discovered through the illegal search may be suppressed, leaving the prosecution with too little evidence to prove your guilt. In other cases, your best course of action might not be to fight the charges but to participate in a drug diversion program that will help you keep the conviction off of your record and avoid jail time. This is somewhat similar to probation, only it leaves you without any conviction at all, which means it will be easier for you to seek out employment later.
In many cases, attorneys for those who have been accused of possession for sale can have the charges plead down to a simple possession charge that will allow the defendant to enter a diversion program.
When you speak with a lawyer about your specific situation, he should be able to tell you what your best course of action will be, whether it is to fight in court, negotiate a plea bargain or seek out a drug diversion program.
Anyone facing drug possession charges should contact attorney Peter M. Liss. To schedule a free consultation, call (760) 643-4050. This will give you a chance to discuss your case and any diversion programs you may qualify for.