At The Ward Firm, we represent people in the Sacramento area and statewide who have been charged with drug crimes. State and federal law both prohibit the cultivation or manufacturing, transportation, sale, and possession of certain drugs, and both judicial systems vigorously prosecute drug offenses.
The primary drug law of the federal government is the Controlled Substances Act, which lists illegal substances and prohibits their manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute. Illegal drugs, or controlled substances as they are known, are classified as either Schedule I, II, II, IV, or Schedule V substances, and include many drugs and chemical substances, including marijuana, cocaine (crack or powder), heroin, LSD, methamphetamines, PCP, MDMA (Ecstasy), and many, many others.
The nation’s drug laws are enforced by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and prosecuted in the federal courts. Sentences are based on Federal Sentencing Guidelines and other statutes and can be quite lengthy. The sentencing guidelines take into account the offense, the defendant’s conduct, and the defendant’s criminal history, and come up with a range of sentences. For instance, a person convicted of a first offense of drug trafficking or dealing could receive from 5 to 40 years in prison, with fines of up to two million dollars.
The California controlled substances act also has several schedules with comprehensive listings of drugs and illegal substances. Without the harsh yet confining Federal Sentencing Guidelines, state prosecutors and courts generally have much wider latitude than their federal counterparts in what types of penalties will be sought or imposed. Common factors influencing sentencing include the type and amount of drugs involved, the nature of the offense (possession versus sale), and prior convictions for drug offenses or other crimes.
In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36, enacting the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act. This law allows first- and second-time offenders of nonviolent possession offenses the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment instead of incarceration.
There are many different drug court models and types of courts active in the state, including adult drug courts, juvenile drug courts, and dependency drug courts.
In some cases, through what are known as drug diversion programs or pre-plea models, a person may agree to participate in a treatment program and avoid prosecution altogether. In others, a person may enter a guilty plea, but criminal charges are dismissed once the person completes the program. In post-adjudication models, the person is convicted and sentenced, but serves out the sentence in treatment as opposed to custody.
The penalties for drug offenses can mean serious jail time, even for first-time offenders. Given the serious consequences on the one hand, and the possibility of avoiding prison through a diversion program on the other, it is essential that you be represented by a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney who can get you acquitted or make the best deal possible for you.
If you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime or drug-related offense, contact The Ward Firm at 916-443-2474 to speak with a lawyer who will aggressively fight for your rights. Or fill our our online contact form.