DRUG POSSESSION & TRAFFICKING ATTORNEY ORANGE COUNTY CA
Unlawful drug possession is the crime of having one or more illegal drugs in your possession, either for personal use or for sale or distribution. Drug possession crimes that violate the California Health and Safety Code can be prosecuted as misdemeanor or felony offenses, and if you are convicted of drug possession in Orange County, even as a misdemeanor, you could end up paying considerable fines and serving time in county jail, in addition to suffering potential adverse housing, employment, immigration, education and driving consequences. If you or a loved one is facing misdemeanor or felony charges for drug possession in Orange County, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Drug crimes like possession or distribution of a controlled substance require immediate intervention by a skilled criminal defense attorney who can work to get the charges dropped or reduced to a lesser offense. If you have been arrested for drug possession, drug trafficking or another drug crime in Orange County, contact our drug crime defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Orange County Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
Facing drug charges can be scary and stressful, and you may think that being arrested for drug possession may as well be an automatic guilty verdict. That is not the case. As in any criminal case, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and hiring a competent criminal defense attorney to represent your case can mean the difference between having a criminal conviction on your record and getting a “not guilty” verdict. Whatever drug charges you are facing, having a criminal defense lawyer on your side who is intimately familiar with the Orange County criminal justice system and who has a clear understanding of state and federal drug law can be a tremendous asset, especially if you are facing a jail sentence and other life-changing penalties.
Choosing the right Orange County defense attorney for your drug possession case may seem like a difficult task, but our proven history of success at Seyb Law Group speaks for itself. Our criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group believe in protecting the rights of the criminally accused and we will use every resource at our disposal to help you build a strong defense and get the best possible outcome in your case. Every drug crime case is different, involving a unique set of facts that must be evaluated by a reputable drug possession defense attorney. And when you hire our firm, you work directly with a passionate and aggressive criminal defense attorney who has experience defending drug crimes like possession of a controlled substance.
Drug Possession and Drug Trafficking
In Orange County, to unlawfully manufacture, use, possess, sell or distribute controlled substances like narcotics, hallucinogens and other types of street drugs and pharmaceutical drugs is a crime, and the most common of these crimes, drug possession, can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. For the purposes of Orange County drug law, a “controlled substance” is any drug regulated by the federal law known as the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. This includes illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine, as well as certain prescription drugs, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, which are commonly abused and can lead to addiction. Under Orange County law, if you are found to possess certain controlled substances without a valid prescription, you could be charged with and found guilty of drug possession and sentenced to jail. If you are found to have sold and/or transported certain controlled substances from one place to another, you could be charged with and found guilty of felony drug trafficking.
California Health and Safety Code § 11350 HS & § 11352 HS
While most criminal offenses in Orange County fall under the California Penal Code, Orange County drug laws are regulated by the California Health and Safety Code, adopted in 1939. Pursuant to Health and Safety Code § 11350 HS, possession of a controlled substance, it is a crime to possess, or have constructive control over, a controlled substance without a valid prescription for that substance. To have constructive control over a drug doesn’t even necessarily mean you have it on your person; if the drug is found in your home, car, office, etc., and you knew it was there, you could still be found guilty of the crime of drug possession. Some controlled substances commonly involved in Orange County drug possession cases and regulated by the Controlled Substances Act include the following:
- Opiates and opiate derivatives
There are other types of drugs that can result in Orange County drug possession charges being brought, one of the most common being marijuana. However, possession of marijuana is actually covered by another drug law – Health and Safety Code § 11357 HS – and possession of methamphetamines and other stimulants are crimes covered by yet another law – Health and Safety Code § 11377 HS. There are many other drug crime laws closely related to HS § 11350, and depending on the circumstances of your case, the prosecutor could file the following charges in addition to or in lieu of a drug possession charge:
- HS § 11351 – Possessing or purchasing controlled substances for sale
- HS § 11352 – Sales and transportation of controlled substances (drug trafficking)
- HS § 11378 and § 11379 – Sales and transportation of methamphetamines
- HS § 11550 – Under the influence of a controlled substance
- HS § 11370.1 – Possession of a controlled substance while armed
- HS § 11365 – Being present while controlled substance use occurs
- Penal Code § 381b PC – Possession of nitrous oxide
Additionally, if you are found to be under the influence of drugs while operating a motor vehicle, you could face charges for Vehicle Code § 23152 (f) VC – driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs; Vehicle Code § 23152 (g) VC – driving under the influence of any combination of a drug and alcohol; Vehicle Code § 23152 (c) VC – driving while addicted to drugs; Vehicle Code § 23153 (a) VC – DUI with injury; or Penal Code § 191.5(a) PC – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Penalties for a Drug Possession or Trafficking Conviction in Orange County
The Orange County criminal justice system treats drug possession and trafficking crimes seriously and the punishment associated with such crimes can be harsh, often involving mandatory jail or prison time and other consequences. In most cases, drug possession is charged as a misdemeanor crime, rather than a felony, but even misdemeanor drug possession can carry a jail sentence and other harsh penalties, depending on the circumstances of your case, including the type of substance, the amount you were caught with, what you intended to do with it, and whether you have any prior drug crime convictions on your record. As a misdemeanor offense, the crime of drug possession in Orange County is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Before Proposition 47 was passed in 2014, unlawful possession of a controlled substance was almost always a felony. In certain cases, Orange County drug possession may still be prosecuted as a felony offense carrying increased penalties, possibly including a county jail sentence of 16 months, two years or three years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Factors that may elevate drug possession from a misdemeanor to a felony include having a prior conviction on your record for an Orange County sex crime or a serious felony, such as murder or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Drug trafficking, on the other hand, is always a felony and the consequences of a felony drug trafficking conviction in Orange County include three to nine years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
Depending on the specific details of your case, your attorney may be able to get your felony drug possession charges reduced to a misdemeanor offense, or your misdemeanor charges reduced to Orange County drug paraphernalia or another lesser offense that carries less severe penalties. Or, if you qualify, your attorney could potentially convince the court to let you serve your sentence in a drug diversion program instead of in jail. California’s pre-trial drug diversion law, Penal Code § 1000 PC, allows certain defendants arrested for non-violent drug crimes, like simple possession, the opportunity to have their charges dismissed if they successfully complete drug treatment.
Orange County Drug Crimes Defense
Drug laws in Orange County are strict and even if you are caught with a small amount of an illegal drug or prescription drug on your person, in your home or in your car, without a valid prescription, you could end up fighting an uphill battle to protect your future and avoid a criminal drug possession conviction. That being said, there are many legal defenses your criminal defense attorney can raise in court to get your drug crime charges reduced or possibly even dismissed altogether. For instance, if the drug possession evidence against you was obtained during an illegal search, your attorney may be able to get the evidence thrown out. Like in other criminal cases, the burden of proof in a drug possession case lies with the prosecution. In order to get a conviction for drug possession in Orange County, the prosecutor assigned to your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements of the crime:
- You exercised control over the drug in question;
- You had knowledge of the drug;
- You were aware of the nature of the drug; and
- You had a sufficient quantity of the drug for it to be used as a controlled substance.
Best Defense Strategies in Orange County Drug Possession Cases
If your Orange County defense attorney can raise questions that create even the slightest bit of doubt and the prosecutor is therefore unable to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot lawfully be convicted of drug possession. For instance, your attorney may be able to convince the court that you didn’t know the drug was present, or that you didn’t know the substance was an illegal drug, in which case the “possession” requirement of the drug crime would not be met. The following are some defense strategies commonly used in Orange County drug possession cases:
- You didn’t know the drug was present
- You didn’t know the substance was a drug
- You had a valid drug prescription
- You didn’t have possession of the drug
- The drug was obtained during an illegal search
- You only had possession of the drug temporarily, so you could dispose of it
How Hiring a Drug Possession Defense Attorney Can Help
After being arrested for drug possession or drug trafficking, you may feel shocked and overwhelmed by the idea of being convicted and serving time in jail, but it is important to remember that you still have legal rights. When you are facing criminal charges for drug possession or any other drug crime, your most important rights include the right to remain silent and the right to obtain skilled legal counsel to challenge the prosecution’s case against you. In light of the potential legal ramifications of an Orange County drug possession conviction, it is critical that individuals facing such drug crime charges seek skilled legal counsel as soon as possible to learn about their legal options and determine the best possible defense strategy for their specific case. With a knowledgeable drug crime defense attorney in your corner, you can ensure that you fully understand the charges against you and how a conviction could impact the rest of your life. Our criminal defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group will investigate every aspect of your case and if you are eligible for a drug diversion program, our attorneys may be able to convince the court that rehabilitation is preferable to punishment.
Contact Our Skilled Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys Today
Most drug crime convictions carry stiff penalties, and even simple drug possession can result in jail time, hefty fines, probation and revocation of your driver’s license, especially if you have other drug crime charges on your criminal record. Whether you are facing charges for drug possession, drug trafficking or drug paraphernalia, your first course of action should be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your legal rights and explore your possible defense options. Our drug crime defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group have decades of experience protecting the rights of individuals charged with drug crimes in Orange County and the surrounding counties, and we can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.