Drug Crimes Attorney Serving Sonoma County
Drug crimes cover a broad range of offenses involving controlled substances, from possession and sale, to manufacture and distribution. These crimes involve violations of federal or state law, or both. Depending on the particular circumstances of a case, these offenses can result in a broad range of potential criminal and administrative consequences, including probation, prison, property forfeiture and participation in a court-ordered drug treatment program. If you have been accused of drug crimes in Santa Rosa, contacting an experienced Santa Rosa Drug Crimes Lawyer is a crucial step towards mitigating the penalties you may be facing.
Drug offenses can take a number of different forms and can be charged in a number of ways, such as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on what specific substance is involved in a given case, or the amount of drugs or evidence perceived or collected by law enforcement. Drug offenses can also often involve collateral crimes, such as money laundering, conspiracy, and racketeering charges.
Typical cases involve:
- Prescription drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin
We offer criminal defense services for those involved in such narcotics related crimes as:
- Prescription fraud
- Possession with intent to distribute
DRUG CULTIVATION INFORMATION
Some Sonoma County drug cultivation and manufacturing laws make it a crime to grow, produce, and possess certain plants and other naturally occurring elements used in the production of unlawful controlled substances, such as cannabis seeds and marijuana plants; or to produce illegal controlled substances like cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and Ecstasy (MDMA), which require use of certain chemicals and laboratory equipment in their production.
Cultivation of any amount of marijuana, for personal use, has been considered a felony in California, and according to section HS 11358 of California’s Health and Safety Codes, “Every person who plants, cultivates, harvests, dries, or processes any marijuana or any part thereof, except as otherwise provided by law, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison.”
Drug cultivation charges in California usually pertain to the cultivation of marijuana or cannabis and carries severe consequences, so it is important that your legal representation be aggressive on your behalf. Illegal drug cultivation entails the planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying or processing of any controlled substance. In addition, marijuana and other cultivation arrests are often accompanied by possession and intent to distribute charges. These charges can drastically increase the penalties. Marijuana cultivation charges, in general, have been considered much more serious than marijuana possession.
Law enforcement and the prosecutors take Santa Rosa drug trafficking and cultivation charges very seriously, and alleged offenders can expect to face aggressive prosecution in drug crime cases. Many times an individual accused of drug cultivation may have had their rights violated due to law enforcement not having the appropriate warrant or probable cause to conduct a search. In order for law enforcement to conduct a legal search of an individual, there must be probable cause, more than mere suspicion or a hunch. For a legal search of one’s premises, there must be a valid warrant, barring any exceptional circumstances. When a search is improperly conducted or probable cause cannot be substantiated, a person’s rights have been violated. Proof of an unwarranted or illegal search could result in the suppression of drug evidence and could make all the difference in the outcome of a drug cultivation, trafficking, or possession case.
LEGAL INFORMATION REGARDING POSSESSION OF COCAINE AND METHAMPHETAMINE
The use, production, distribution, and possession of cocaine and Methamphetamine among other controlled substances are regulated by California state laws and federal laws and persons violating these laws can be up against serious prison time. Prosecutors can be extremely tough, so it makes sense to get advice from the best drug possession defense lawyer you can find.
DRUG POSSESSION POLICY IN CALIFORNIA
Methamphetamine is illegal for possession in California under Health and Safety Code 11377. Those convicted of HS 11378, possession of amphetamines for sale, may receive anything from probation up to 4 years in prison. Harsher sentences are given for those convicted of manufacturing amphetamines such as methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine possession or possession of “crystal meth” is very unique in California. Unlike possession of other unlawful and regularly used drugs such as cocaine or heroin (which are always felonies), possession of methamphetamine (along with ecstasy) for personal use can be a misdemeanor or a felony in California.
Cocaine, crack cocaine, coca leaves and all other forms of cocaine are Schedule 2 on the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Cocaine is illegal to possess under California Health and Safety Code 11350. Possession under HS 11350 can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony with up to 3 years in prison. Possession for sale of cocaine salt is prohibited under Health and Safety Code 11351 and crack cocaine under 11351.5. Penalties for possession for sale of cocaine salt are 2,3, or 4 years in the state prison; for crack cocaine, 3, 4, or 5 years.
Depending on your charge and the amount and type of drug you are caught with, you could be facing mandatory prison time. California has sentence enhancements that will add years onto your original sentence for things like prior convictions, firearm possession at the time of arrest, and selling drugs to children under the age of 21.
California also has alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders. These include:
- Proposition 36 – One year of drug treatment. The level of your treatment (inpatient, halfway house, outpatient, etc) to be determined by an expert from the Department of Health.
- Drug Court – One year program in which you participate in counseling, random drug testing, 12 step programs, and judicial reviews.
- Deferred Entry of Judgement – In this diversion program, you plead guilty and go through 6 months of treatment. After remaining arrest-free for an additional 12 months, the case is dismissed.
For a person to be convicted illegally possessing methamphetamine or cocaine a prosecutor must prove actual possession of the drug or constructive possession. A prosecutor must also prove that the person charged had a usable amount.
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS INFORMATION
Abuse of prescription drugs is an epidemic in California. There are more deaths annually from prescription drug abuse than from meth, cocaine, and heroin combined. Drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Methadone are now commonly prescribed for pain. Painkillers offer relief to millions of Americans but present a hidden danger.
These kinds of prescription drugs are called “opiates.” An opiate is a sedative narcotic. In a way, these drugs are a lot like heroin, but unlike heroin, most people don’t know how potentially addicting and dangerous prescription opiates can be.
In California, any individual can face criminal drug charges for unlawful possession, possession for sale, trafficking, manufacturing, or distribution of any prescription drug. This includes adderall, dilaudid, percocet, vicodin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxycontin, valium, methadone, xanax, ritalin, fentanyl, among many others.
Illegal prescription drug fraud has also become a serious problem. The State of California is making a serious attempt to crack down on prescription drug fraud, forgery and doctor shopping. Prescription drugs are evolving and have become more powerful and addictive. It is illegal for individuals to go doctor shopping, for doctors to illegally prescribe pills and for prescription drugs to be obtained by fraud.
Common types of prescription crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Doctor shopping – This is one of the most common prescription drug-related crimes. This is when a patient goes to a doctor and gets a prescription, for OxyContin, Vicodin or other painkillers, only to go to another doctor for the same prescription without either doctor’s knowledge.
- Other forms of prescription drug fraud – Prescription drug forgery, creation of false prescriptions, stealing prescription pads, and false impersonation for the purpose of obtaining prescription drugs.
- Drug trafficking – The crime of drug trafficking is not driven by the sale of pills; it is driven by quantity. Illegally possessing prescription drugs over a certain quantity is what constitutes trafficking. Surprisingly, it takes a few pills to qualify for a minimum mandatory prison sentence.
- Selling of a legal prescription to an unprescribed user – A common prescription drug crime involves someone who has obtained a prescription drug lawfully and then selling it to someone else in violation of the law.
Although prescription drug crimes are not viewed in the same way that “street drug” crimes are, if you have been charged with violating prescription drug laws, you are facing similar penalties as someone charged with any illegal drug crime.
The penalties that may be enforced for a prescription drug offense in California will vary. Whether the crime is charged as a state or federal offense will affect the sentencing. The exact type of substance involved and the amount is also highly relevant to determining the outcome of the case. A defendant may still be at risk of facing a state prison term, heavy fines, and other penalties. With these consequences, coupled with your reputation on the line, it is important to work with a skilled team of Santa Rosa prescription drug crime defense attorneys to defend you against these charges. We defend clients throughout Sonoma County and California against prescription drug crimes involving OxyContin, Percocet, Valium, Ritalin and other prescription drugs.
DRUG TRAFFICKING INFORMATION
The United States of America remains the leading consumer of illegal drugs in the world. A drug trafficking offense in California can result in a felony criminal charge. It is an illegal and dangerous undertaking. The definition of drug trafficking is the trade or dealing of illicit drugs and/or the sale or exchange of drugs. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy are the most common drugs found in drug trafficking cases. California takes a no tolerance stance on the fight against drugs. Drug offenses often lead to more serious crimes and cause destruction within communities. Due to the severity of this type of charge and the penalties associated with it, working with a well known and well respected Santa Rosa Drug Crimes Lawyer is crucial if you are facing drug trafficking charges in Sonoma County.
The California Health and Safety Code Section (CHSC) 11352 defines Drug Trafficking as any “person who transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away, or offers to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, administer, or give away, or attempts to import into this state or transport any controlled substance.”
The punishment of a drug trafficking offense can result in severe penalties. The penalties vary with the type and classification of the drug being transported, the geographic location and the amount being transported and if any minors were involved. Any illegal drugs brought into California from another country face the most severe penalties and punishment, including deportation.
California state laws especially seek to protect minors from the sale of drugs as well as from participation in drug distribution activities. Accordingly, state law includes enhancements to further penalize adults who involve minors in drug-related activities such as distribution or trafficking, who conduct drug-related activities in close proximity to schools or other areas designated for children, or who directly sell drugs to minors. The state laws regarding drug distribution and trafficking also further penalize defendants who have been convicted previously of drug-related felony offenses.
Some defenses to drug distribution charges include possession for personal use and entrapment. For more information about entrapment, visit our SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA ENTRAPMENT LAWS page.
The transport, import, transfer, or sale of controlled substances may result in felony sentencing of three to five years. Transport from one California county to a non-contiguous county can result in an increased sentence of three to nine years of imprisonment. Drug crimes in Sonoma County involving the hiring or employment of minors to sell or distribute controlled substances, or the sale of controlled substances to minors, can result in sentences of three, six, or nine years in state prison. California law also includes a sentencing enhancement when drug-related distribution activities occur within 1,000 feet of schools, school-related programs, or playgrounds during operational hours.
The transport, import, transfer, or sale of marijuana may result in felony sentencing for imprisonment lasting two, three, or four years. California law includes an exception when the amount of marijuana involved is less than 28.5 grams, the equivalent of one ounce, and the marijuana is not concentrated cannabis. Under this exception, a defendant charged with a crime related to marijuana distribution may receive a misdemeanor penalty of a fine that cannot exceed $100.
California law also criminalizes the transport, import, transfer, or sale of chemicals used as ingredients for the manufacture of phencyclidine (PCP) and methamphetamine, or the transport, import, transfer, or sale of the drugs themselves. Conviction may result in sentences of imprisonment lasting sixteen months to six years.
Because of the federal and state implications involved in drug trafficking cases, it is imperative that proper and expert legal representation be engaged when facing these charges. In order to be adequately protected in your rights, contact the Santa Rosa drug defense attorneys at The Law Office of Paul Lozada today.
DRUG DRIVING DUI INFORMATION
DUI Drugs or “drug driving” is a crime. In California, it is an offense that often has the same consequences as driving while intoxicated. Vehicle Code section 23152a states, it is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
California law defines “drugs” as any substance other than alcohol that could affect your nervous system, brain or muscles. You drive under the influence of drugs when those drugs impair you to the point that you can no longer drive like a sober person under similar circumstances. These drugs include illicit drugs such as cocaine, prescription drugs such as Vicodin, or over-the-counter drugs such as diphenhydramine (in Tylenol PM).
The critical question in a driving under the influence of drugs case will be whether the driver is able to operate his or her vehicle with the same caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances. If, because of the consumption of drugs, the driver is not able to do so, they can be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs.
The crime of driving under the influence of drugs can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Driving under the influence is usually a misdemeanor. If there are aggravating circumstances, a Sonoma County DUI charge can become a felony. Aggravating circumstances can result from accidents and/or injuries, if minor children were present, a breath or blood sample refusal, speeding or evading, if you are on probation, if it is your 4th DUI arrest, or if you had a prior felony DUI in the last 10 years. If proven true, aggravating circumstances will increase the punishment.
For evidence of impairment, officers may administer a field sobriety test. Arrestees may also be required to submit to their choice of a urine or blood test under Vehicle code 23612. Since drugs such as marijuana are detectable for much longer periods in urine than in blood (several days vs. several hours), a positive urine test constitutes much weaker proof of recent use and impairment than a positive blood test. If you haven’t smoked marijuana recently and are not under the influence, you are better off to choose a blood test, since you will probably pass it. However, if you are a frequent smoker or have smoked recently, you are better off to choose a urine test; even though you can expect to test positive, the question will at least remain open as to whether you were actually “under the influence” at the time of arrest.
Aside from the blood test, the evidence presented by the prosecution for a DUI drug case will also include the comments from the arresting officer. These comments include:
- Physical appearance
- Performance with field sobriety tests
- Erratic driving
- Incriminating statements
IMPAIRING EFFECTS OF VARIOUS ILLEGAL DRUGS
- Marijuana – Relaxation, euphoria, disorientation, altered time and space perception, drowsiness, paranoia, image distortion, increased heart rate.
- Cocaine – Euphoria, excitation, dizziness, increased focus and alertness (initially) confusion and disoriented behavior, irritability, paranoia, aggressiveness, increased heart rate.
- Methamphetamine – Euphoria, excitation, hallucinations, delusions, insomnia, poor impulse control, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure.
- Morphine & Heroin – Intense euphoria, drowsiness, relaxation, sedation, disconnectedness, mental clouding, analgesia, depressed heart rate, nausea and vomiting, diminished reflexes.
- LSD – Hallucinations, altered mental state, delusions, impaired depth, time and space perception, hypertension, tremors.
IMPAIRING EFFECTS OF COMMON PRESCRIPTION AND OTC DRUGS
- Antidepressants – Some sedating antidepressants cause impairment similar to drunk driving.
- Valium – 10 mg of the popular tranquilizer can cause impairment similar to having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent.
- Antihistamines – Many of them slow reaction time and impair coordination.
- Decongestants – Many over-the-counter decongestants can cause drowsiness, anxiety and dizziness.
- Sleeping Pills – Even in the morning, residual effects of these drugs can impair drivers.
- Oxycodone – This common pain reliever, the main component of Vicodin and Oxycontin, is similar to opiates and causes impairment similar to morphine and codeine.
Contacting a Santa Rosa Drug Crimes Lawyer
If you have been accused of a drug crime in Santa Rosa, whether it is a misdemeanor or a serious felony, you may be facing some serious consequences, such as high fines, forfeiture of property, loss of your driver’s license and potential jail time. You don’t have to face the criminal justice system alone. Our skilled drug crimes attorneys can mount an experienced, focused, aggressive criminal defense on your behalf. Contact our office today at (707) 636-3272 for a free initial consultation.
It is extremely important to have a knowledgeable Santa Rosa Drug Crimes Lawyer begin working on your case as early as possible. Critical issues, such as how your particular case will be filed and what charges will be leveled against you, are decided very soon after your arrest or during the investigatory period. Whether your case goes in front of the grand jury or not, early intervention gives us an opportunity to potentially reduce or dismiss the charges against you before the first court date.
A conviction may result in imprisonment, heavy fines, probation with compulsory narcotics testing, mandatory rehabilitation, loss of certain rights, and more. The severity of the punishment depends on a number of factors including, but not limited to:
- Prior convictions
- Circumstances surrounding the crime
- Media attention
- Personal biases of law enforcement officials, judges, and juries
- The effectiveness of the defendant’s legal representation
Reach Out to a Skilled Santa Rosa Drug Crimes Lawyer
Consulting with an experienced Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Attorney for advice on how to proceed is essential. Drug crimes can be charged and prosecuted under federal law, state law or both. Because federal drug crimes can carry significantly harsher penalties, it is important to contact an attorney familiar with both federal and state criminal drug law.
If you are facing drug charges, contact The Law Office of Paul Lozada today at (707) 636-3272. Our Santa Rosa criminal defense attorneys will help you with your case and can explain the intricacies of both systems and vigorously represent your interests.
The Law Office of Paul Lozada is located in Santa Rosa and serves clients throughout Sonoma County.