A drug-related offense in California is defined as any crime involving the use, possession, sale or intent to sell, transport, manufacture or distribute of any number of controlled substances defined in the California Health & Safety Code. Controlled substance and California drug laws apply not only to common narcotics and drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, crack, MDMA (ecstasy), heroin, opium and LSD, but also to prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, Oxycontin and Valium possessed without a valid prescription, or sold to other individuals.
A defendant convicted of a drug-related offense in California faces a number of penalties, including, but not limited to imprisonment, probation, community service, mandatory drug and alcohol counseling, and/or expensive fines and fees. Persons with prior convictions, especially drug-related offenses, may also face increased penalties. Additionally, the government can sometimes seize your personal property including vehicles, money and houses if they believe it is linked to any illegal narcotics activity. How the crime is charged and punished depends on the type and quantity of the drugs involved, whether they were possessed for personal use or for sale, and if the defendant has any type of criminal record.
Often the best and most powerful defense for a drug bust or drug-related crime is examining the evidence and how it was obtained by law enforcement. Law enforcement gathers most of their drug-related evidence through search and seizure. The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution ensures every person the right to be free from unreasonable and illegal searches and seizures by law enforcement. That means if the police obtained evidence against you illegally, that evidence cannot be used against you! BUT it takes a skilled criminal defense attorney to challenge the searched and seizures in your case in court. Chester & Lewkowicz, Attorneys At Law has handled many drug-related offenses and know the procedures and laws necessary to do everything possible to suppress the evidence against you!
Don’t spend time in jail! Sentencing alternatives are available!
In California, drug treatment is preferred over jail time for non-violent individuals with a history of drug abuse. Depending on the type of case you are charged with and your prior criminal record you may be eligible for one of three sentencing alternatives:
- Deferred Entry of Judgment (Also known as DEJ or Diversion) California Penal Code section 1000, et seq. This option is generally available to a criminal defendant with no prior criminal history. The defendant enters a plea to an agreed-upon charge, but is not sentenced. Therefore, under California law, there is no conviction. The case is put on hold, or diverted for a period of 18 months while the defendant takes a 6-month drug education course and avoids any further arrests or convictions. If the defendant is successful at the 18 months program the case is dismissed after 18 months and results in no conviction to impact your future!
- Proposition 36 California’s Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, also known as Prop 36, allows first and second time non-violent simple drug possession offenders receive substance abuse treatment and counseling instead of going to jail! Treatment under Prop 36 might include living in a halfway house or other in-patient treatment, but usually consists of outpatient treatment and educational classes as well as aftercare treatment.
- Drug Court Drug Court is not available in all jurisdictions and in all courts, but like the other programs involves supervision and treatment of the criminal defendant through a number of phases designed to offer the participant more freedoms and less supervision as he or she completes each phase. Once the defendant completes the Drug Court program the case is generally dismissed.
Due to the life-altering legal consequences that are involved in drug-related offense, and because there may be sentencing alternatives available to get you the help you need and avoid a criminal conviction, it is always in a persons best interest to obtain the advice and services of a criminal defense attorney who has the legal background and knowledge it takes to successfully fight drug crime charges.