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Seasoned Drug Penalties Attorney in Ventura, CA

Possession of illegal drugs in California can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Depending on the type of drug involved, the circumstances of the crime, and the defendant’s prior criminal record, the prosecutor may file a misdemeanor or felony charge. 

When it comes to felony charges in California, all of the above, as well as other aggravating factors such as gang involvement or weapon possession, are taken into account. If you are charged with a felony drug crime and convicted, you will almost certainly face prison time. 

Such a sentence has the potential to alter the course of your life and unfavorably rewrite your future. David Lehr Law’s skilled drug penalties attorney in Ventura, CA, works hard to protect your rights throughout the process and to build a solid defense strategy to help you secure a favorable outcome. Call our criminal defense law firm to learn more.

Why Do I Need a Drug Penalties Attorney in California?

drug penalties attorney Ventura, CATrying to hold your own in court when facing drug charges without an attorney is not only stressful, but it can quickly turn into a disaster that will negatively impact the rest of your life. This is one of the most important reasons to hire our competent drug penalties attorney in Ventura, CA. It is, however, not the only one:

Understanding of the System

We have intimate knowledge of the court system, allowing us to represent you in the best way possible. Furthermore, since we specialize in drug crimes, we will undoubtedly know how to act, what to do, and what to say, as well as how to advise you on how to behave in court.

Commitment to Assisting You

When you hire our skilled Ventura drug penalties attorney, you appoint a professional to represent your case and your best interests in court. This means we’re completely committed to assisting and seeing you walk free or secure the best possible outcome for your drug charges. This means you always have someone on your side.

Saving Money

Some people believe that hiring a lawyer is a waste of money. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Hiring our reputable drug penalties attorney in Ventura will save you money in the long run because it will keep you from going to jail, losing your job, and paying expensive fines.

Knowledge of Drug Crimes

One of the most important benefits of hiring our drug penalties attorney in California is that we have handled cases similar to yours. We’ve helped many people before you win their cases, we know the best defense strategies to use, and we’re familiar with the inner workings of the legal system, all of which increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

What is the “Controlled Substance” in California?

A controlled substance is a regulated drug on the State of California’s controlled substance schedule. Cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are always illegal. Others are prescription medications, such as morphine and oxycodone. The California Health and Safety Code prohibits the majority of these.

In California, this code defines five “schedules” of controlled substances. Each is defined by broad categories of drug types and amounts punished similarly. They are as follows:

  • Schedule I Drugs. This includes opiates, cocaine, and mescaline.
  • Schedule II Drugs. Raw opium, morphine, and other narcotics are included.
  • Schedule III Drugs. This includes anabolic steroids and pentobarbital.
  • Schedule IV Drugs. Many prescription drugs, such as diazepam and zolpidem, fall into this category.
  • Schedule V Drugs. This includes prescription drugs that are less tightly controlled, such as low doses of codeine.

Other parts of the criminal code make some drugs illegal, such as meth, but they are generally treated the same as controlled substances within these schedules. To prove that you are guilty of possessing a controlled substance, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The substance in question is classified as a controlled substance.
  • You were in illegal possession of the controlled substance. 
  • You were aware of the controlled substance’s presence.
  • You were aware that the substance was a controlled substance.
  • You had a usable amount of the drug rather than just residue.

If any of these are not proven, your case must be dismissed. While most people believe that you must have the drugs in your possession to be charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, law enforcement can charge you in three ways.

Actual Possession

This is what most people think of when they think of possession. The drug is physically present in your body, such as in your pocket.

Constructive Possession

This is a little more ambiguous. In general, you can be charged with constructive possession if the drug is in a location where you can easily access it, such as your car, your home, or another location, such as a gym locker, or stashed within reach under a chair. 

In these cases, the prosecution must prove that the drug was “within your control,” which essentially means that you could easily retrieve it to have actual physical possession.

Joint Possession

Joint possession combines actual and constructive possession in which two people own a drug. Joint possession usually occurs when a drug is discovered in a shared space, and both parties have constructive possession. If you and a friend pool your funds to buy a controlled substance, you may be charged with joint possession.

What Are the Different ‍California Penalties for Drug Trafficking?

Selling or transporting drugs is a felony in California, with penalties ranging from 3 to 9 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

Marijuana Possession (HS 11357)

Marijuana possession is a unique California drug crime because it is classified as a “wobbler,” which means that it can be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor drug crime. Possession of marijuana is illegal unless you have a valid medical marijuana prescription or card at the time of police contact.

Marijuana Possession of Under 28.5 oz [HS 11357 (b)] 

  • A $100 fine 
  • A drug education class or program ordered by the court
  • There is no criminal record

Marijuana Possession of Over 28.5 oz [HS 11357 (c)]

  • A county jail sentence of up to 6 months 
  • A $500 fine
  • Summary probation
  • Labor or community service
  • A drug education program ordered by the court
  • Criminal record

Concentrated Cannabis Possession [HS 11357 (a)]

  • Maximum sentence of three years in California State Prison 
  • A $500 fine 
  • Summary or formal probation
  • Labor or community service
  • A drug education program ordered by the court
  • Criminal record

Cocaine Possession (HS 11350)

Possession of cocaine for personal use is now a misdemeanor drug crime. However, it can still be charged as a felony if certain aggravating factors exist, such as a prior serious felony record or status as a registered sex offender. 

Cocaine possession is prosecuted aggressively in California because it is one of the most highly addictive controlled substances. The punishment can be enhanced if you are charged with cocaine and a loaded firearm. 

Although our skilled drug penalties attorney in Ventura, CA, can negotiate drug diversion to resolve your drug case, if convicted of simple possession of cocaine, you face the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in county jail (Misdemeanor) or three years in California state prison (Felony)
  • Up to $1,000 fine for the first offense or $2,000 fine for the second offense
  • Summary or formal probation
  • Labor or community service
  • A drug education program ordered by the court
  • Criminal record

Felony Cocaine Possession With a Loaded Firearm (HS 11370.1)

  • In California State Prison for four years
  • Formal probation
  • Labor or community service
  • A drug education program ordered by the court
  • Loss of gun ownership rights
  • Criminal record

Heroin Possession (HS 11350)

Heroin is classified as a Schedule I Drug under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act due to its high potential for abuse and significantly higher potential for psychological and physical dependency. 

In California, heroin possession and possession of paraphernalia are both diversion-eligible drug offenses, whereas heroin possession with intent to sell or distribute is not. If you are charged with simple possession of heroin, you will face the following penalties:

  • One year in county jail (Misdemeanor) or three years in California state prison (Felony)
  • Up to $1,000 fine for the first offense or $2,000 fine for the second offense
  • Summary or formal probation
  • Labor or community service
  • A drug education program ordered by the court
  • Criminal record

“Meth” Possession (HS 11377)

Methamphetamine, also known as “Meth,” is classified as a dangerous Schedule II Drug due to its high potential for abuse and psychological and physical dependence. Drug charges involving “Meth” account for a significant portion of all drug crimes in Californi

If you have been arrested for simple first-time possession of meth, you are likely eligible for a drug diversion program, which, if completed successfully, will allow you to avoid jail time and a criminal record. If you are arrested for Meth possession, you will face the following penalties:

  • One year in county jail (Misdemeanor) or three years in California state prison (Felony)
  • A $1,000 fine is possible
  • Summary or formal probation
  • Labor or community service
  • A drug education program ordered by the court
  • Criminal record

Prescription Drugs Without Prescription Possession (BP 4060)

Prescription medication abuse has skyrocketed in the last two decades. However, if you are a registered sex offender or have prior serious felony convictions on your criminal record, you may be charged with a felony. If you are charged with BP 4060, you face the following penalties:

  • One year in county jail (misdemeanor) or three years in California state prison (Felony)
  • A $1,000 fine 
  • Summary or formal probation
  • Labor or community service
  • A drug education program ordered by the court
  • Criminal record

What Are the Federal Penalties for Drug Trafficking?

The number of drugs involved, whether or not the use of these drugs caused injury or death, and a few other factors determine federal penalties for drug trafficking. Federal penalties range from 5 years to life in prison, as well as fines that typically range from $5 million to $20 million but can be less depending on the substance trafficked and its classification on the Federal Drug Classification Schedule.

What Are the Possible Consequences of a Possession of a Controlled Substances Conviction?

Possession of any Schedule Drug is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to a year in prison under Proposition 47. However, not everyone is eligible for these misdemeanor charges. Proposition 47 applies only to people who are not registered sex offenders and have no prior convictions for other serious violent crimes, such as murder. 

Defendants who do not qualify may face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the drug and the amount in possession. Some of these charges could result in years in prison. However, jail time is not the only consequence of a drug conviction. A criminal record for Possession of a Controlled Substance may make it difficult to:

Job Seeking

Finding a job when you have a conviction is difficult. You may be required to submit to a background check, which may reveal a conviction. You also cannot obtain a security clearance to work for the government.

Apartment Renting

A landlord may refuse to rent to you if a background check reveals a conviction.

Financial Assistance for College

You may be unable to receive financial aid for college or university if you have a drug conviction. If you are a student, this could even prevent you from graduating.

Custody Cases

When granting custody of your children, a judge may look unfavorably on a drug conviction.

Immigration

Certain convictions can result in the revocation of a visa or green card. Deportation may result from a felony conviction.

Unfortunately, there are numerous other possible outcomes. Our knowledgeable drug penalties attorney in Ventura can tell you exactly what charges you may face and work to reduce them.

When Can Drug Charges in California Be Drop?

Our skilled Ventura drug defense attorney can assess the facts of your case and determine whether you have grounds to have your drug charges dropped. This, however, is not always possible. We must demonstrate that one or more of the following circumstances apply to your case to have your drug charges dropped.

Constitutional Rights Violations

Anyone detained in the United States on suspicion of a crime has constitutional rights. If the officer who arrested you violated your rights, the charges against you might be dropped. Following are some common examples of constitutional rights violations during drug possession arrests:

  • The arresting officer did not read the defendant’s Miranda rights.
  • The defendant was not informed that anything said in court could be used against them.
  • During questioning, the police did not allow the defendant to have an attorney present.
  • After hiring an attorney, the defendant was questioned without one.

Absence of a Probable Cause

The foundation of any criminal case is probable cause. Without it, any police evidence gathered could be thrown out of court. Before stopping, searching, or arresting you, the arresting officer must show that they had reasonable grounds to believe you had committed a crime. 

Our proficient drug penalties attorney in California can look into the specifics of your arrest to see if your drug possession charges can be dropped due to a lack of probable cause.

Evidence of Legal Possession

If you were arrested for prescription drug possession because you did not have proof of a prescription, providing that proof may result in the charges being dropped. Another example would be if you went to pick up a prescription for a family member or friend and were arrested while transporting it to them. 

In either case, demonstrating that the drugs were prescribed and that you were legally permitted to possess them may result in the charges being dropped.

Illegal Stops and Searches

We can investigate your case to see if the evidence against you was obtained during an illegal police search or stop. For example, if an arresting officer stopped you based on racial profiling rather than probable cause, the stop could be challenged, and the charges against you dismissed by a judge.

What Other Legal Options Are There?

Even if you cannot have your drug possession charges dropped, you may be able to reduce your penalties through other means.

Drug Diversion Program

The California Drug Diversion Program (also known as pretrial diversion) allows people charged with minor drug offenses to choose drug abuse treatment and education over jail time. This program applies to the majority of drug possession charges. When you finish the program, your charges will be dropped, and you will not have a criminal record. 

To be eligible for pretrial diversion in California, you must meet the following requirements:

  • The charges are for personal use and possession.
  • You have not been convicted of other controlled substance offenses that preclude pretrial diversion within the last five years.
  • The charges make no mention of violence or threats of violence.

Plea Agreements

To be accepted into a drug diversion program, you must enter a guilty plea to the charges against you. A plea agreement can also be used to reduce drug charges. For example, the district attorney may be willing to reduce a felony drug charge to a misdemeanor in exchange for a guilty plea in some cases.

Can Drug Convictions Be Overturned in California?

Even if you are convicted of a drug crime, you do not have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life. Under the Clean Your Record program in California, both misdemeanor and felony drug possession charges may be expunged if the following conditions are met:

  • You have fulfilled all of the court-ordered requirements for the offense, including probation.
  • You were not sentenced to state prison as a result of the conviction.
  • You did serve time in state prison, but if the crime had occurred after the passage of Proposition 47, you would have been sentenced to county jail.

Furthermore, if you were convicted of a marijuana offense in California before recreational marijuana was legalized, the California Department of Justice will review and seal your conviction.

You Need Effective Representation From an Experienced Drug Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, you need our experienced criminal defense attorney. While there is never a guarantee in a criminal case, drug charges can sometimes be reduced or dropped, and you will face fewer consequences.

We will negotiate for leniency and alternative sentencing even if the evidence is overwhelming and you are convicted. We have successfully represented clients facing drug charges throughout California for many years. If you are charged with a drug or drug-related crime in the California area, we will begin working on your case immediately. 

We will discuss your best defense options after thoroughly reviewing your case. At David Lehr Law, we prioritize our clients. For a free consultation, please call or send an email.

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