Possession of a Controlled Substance
If you are facing drug possession charges, it's important to speak with an attorney to learn about the penalties the court can impose on you for a conviction. Penalties for drug possession vary widely. Depending on the substance and the quantity, you could face stiff penalties such as jail or prison time and exorbitant fines. A drug conviction can even affect your student financial aid eligibility. But you shouldn't give up hope without a fight, so here are seven useful tips for those facing California drug possession charges.
When facing any criminal charge, you should fully exercise your right to remain silent. Do not speak with anyone but an attorney. Don't try to argue your case with the arresting officer. Don't think you can give an explanation or an excuse that will release you from custody. Keep all that information to yourself until you've spoken with an attorney.
Lay Low on Social Media
It's also a good idea to keep quiet on social media and remove any posts or images that may make you look bad given the charges. This is something too many defendants facing criminal charges don't do.
Hand Over Prescriptions
If you have a valid prescription for the drug, make sure you produce it as soon as possible after an arrest. It's best to call an attorney right away in this situation. The sooner an attorney can step in and prove you had a valid prescription, the better the chance of charges never being filed in the first place, which is preferable.
Police Make Mistakes
When it comes to drug possession charges, the evidence is key. The police officer that arrested you should have collected certain pieces of evidence to build a case against you. Sometimes police officers arrest people without collecting the evidence they need to file official charges. When their report is turned over to the prosecuting attorney, the lack of evidence could result in your case never making it to court. So, even if you were arrested, it is worth your time to speak with an attorney who can help you determine if there is enough evidence to convict you and what you can do if there isn't.
Proving the Elements
To convict you of possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must prove several elements. For example, the prosecution must prove you had knowledge the drug was on your person or property and that the quantity was enough to use for drug consumption purposes. These elements can be difficult to prove without sufficient evidence. If the prosecution cannot prove these elements, you cannot be convicted.
The State of California recognizes that many who face possession of controlled substance charges are not criminals. They may simply have a problem that needs treatment. Consequently, California has drug diversion programs that process criminal defendants facing drug possession charges differently. Instead of punishing them, they connect them with structured treatment programs to rehabilitate them. There are two main diversion programs for these types of charges.
Deferred Entry of Judgment
With a deferred entry of judgment, defendants plead guilty, but the courts suspend their sentencing while they complete a drug treatment program. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the charges are dismissed.
You can also be put in drug diversion program after you've been convicted. If you complete your drug treatment, the judge may, at his or her discretion, dismiss the charges.
Scrutinize the Search
Did the arresting officer find drugs on you during a search? If so, it's worth your time to discuss that search with an attorney. If the search was conducted unlawfully, an attorney can file a motion in your case to suppress any unlawfully seized evidence. Typically, police need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a search. An attorney can help you determine whether your arresting officer had either of these.
Facing charges of possession of a controlled substance can be stressful. But you don't have to face your charges alone. These are relatively common criminal charges in California, so find a seasoned attorney who has handled drug possession cases. An experienced attorney will know the best course of action to take given the facts and circumstances of your offense.
If you are facing drug possession charges, we can help you with your defense. California attorney Christopher Martens knows California drug crime defense and will help you fight for your rights. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has helped many Californians fight their charges. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.