Drug charges in California can range from simple possession to the selling or manufacturing of drugs. If you’re facing a drug charge, no matter the severity, it’s in your best interest to have an effective attorney on your side who can aid in your legal defense. From my offices in Santa Cruz, California, I’ll map out your strongest defense in the hopes of reducing charges and minimizing penalties. Call me today to set up an appointment.
Drug crimes can be multifaceted, and there are times when a state-level charge can turn into a federal drug charge. If part of your drug charge includes crossing borders to distribute or sell a controlled substance, it becomes a federal crime. It could also become a federal crime if you're charged with selling on government property, if a federal officer arrests you, or if your charges are large in scale or associated with organized crime.
There are two main drug charges you may be facing in the state of California: possession and distribution. The severity of a drug possession charge changes depending on the type and amount of drug, and why the defendant has them.
California separates charges related to marijuana from other drugs due to recreational marijuana becoming decriminalized in 2016. Most possession charges in California are classified as misdemeanors, though they can grow more serious when you’re charged with possession with the intent to sell. Most distribution charges are felony offenses, and with these, the prosecution must prove the intent to import, sell, transport or transfer the drugs apart from any personal use.
Drug charges in California are defined by their “schedule,” ranging from I to V, with I being the most serious and carrying the most severe penalties. Schedule I drugs are typically those with no medicinal use and the highest potential for addiction like heroin, PCP, ecstasy, and other opiates. Some drugs such as marijuana are still considered Schedule I drugs under federal law, but possession of small amounts are typically treated differently under California law. Schedule II drugs may have some medical uses, but are still considered highly addictive such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or morphine. The lowest, schedule V, refers mostly to drugs available with a prescription such as codeine.
Conviction from a drug charge can bring with it jail time, heavy fines, probation, community service, and a tarnished permanent record. The severity of your sentencing varies depending on the actual charge and what schedule it falls under, but it can also be significantly mitigated with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Because drug crimes can be so complex, you must contact an attorney immediately to start working on your defense. I’ve worked with defendants across California including Palo Alto, San Jose, San Francisco, and Berkeley, and can tailor your defense strategy to your specific needs. In some cases, I can argue that your property was illegally searched, that you were the victim of entrapment, or that the drugs were for personal use. If you were only charged with possession, I may be able to negotiate entry into a drug diversion program which can conceivably dismiss the charge completely. My goal is always to reduce your potential penalties or downgrade a felony charge to a misdemeanor.
No matter the charge you're facing or whether you believe you were guilty or innocent, I’m here to listen to your side of the story and work compassionately yet aggressively in your defense. Over the last 20+ years, I’ve built my practice at the Law Offices of Andrew C. Janecki to tirelessly defend my clients’ best interests and pursue the best possible outcomes. If you're in the Santa Cruz, California area, call me today to set up an appointment.