Drug Crimes Can Ruin Your Life
Drug crimes are some of the most commonly prosecuted criminal offenses in California and throughout the United States. Over the past several years, many have raised concerns over how harshly many nonviolent drug crimes are prosecuted and the morality of legally punishing those struggling with substance abuse disorders. If you or a loved one was recently charged with any type of drug crime in the Sacramento area, it’s essential to know your rights and understand the value of reliable criminal defense counsel.
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.
Have You Been Charged With Federal Drug Crimes?
The federal government’s primary drug law 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, III, IV, or Schedule V substances. These 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.
Have You Been Charged With State Drug Crimes?
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.
How Drug Courts Operate In Sacramento
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.
What Is the Most Common Drug Offense In California?
California’s Criminal Code upholds many statutes and laws concerning drugs, and the most commonly filed criminal drug charge in California and throughout the United States is illegal possession. This is a straightforward offense that refers to anyone knowingly possessing illicit drugs on their person, in their vehicle, in their home, or in their personal belongings. California has recently relaxed many of the laws pertaining to drug crimes in the state, but possession charges can still be incredibly costly and entail significant legal penalties.
Many California judges are willing to help defendants struggling with substance abuse find treatment instead of pushing them into the prison system. However, not every judge is so understanding. If there are any additional charges present in a drug crimes case, contact our firm. The suspect could face a very difficult legal battle without a reliable Sacramento drug crimes attorney on their side.
What Type of Crime Is Drug Possession?
Drug possession is often referred to as a “wobbler” charge since drug possession may “wobble” along the line between a misdemeanor and a felony. There is a significant distinction between these two levels of charges. Good Sacramento drug crimes attorneys typically work to have their clients’ charges reduced to misdemeanors or minor infractions whenever possible.
California’s Criminal Code outlines various levels of legal penalties for drug offenses depending on a few criteria. These include the type of substance involved in a case, the number of illicit drugs a suspect had in their possession at the time of arrest, and whether the possession was linked to other criminal acts, such as drug trafficking or firearms violations.
California residents should remember that marijuana has been decriminalized statewide. It is legal for adults over 21 to possess marijuana and marijuana products and cultivate marijuana plants at home. However, it is only legal to own and consume cannabis while complying with state laws. For example, you may not cultivate marijuana at home and sell it to your friends, but you are allowed to gift small amounts to other adults in accordance with state statutes. While marijuana is technically legal in California, it is still possible to be arrested for drug crimes if you do not abide by state cannabis laws.
What Can a Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Do?
A criminal defense attorney’s main goal in any drug crimes case is to have their client’s charges reduced or dropped entirely. Your Sacramento drug crimes attorney should work closely with you to determine the weight of the prosecution’s evidence and any exculpatory factors that might work in your favor. A good defense attorney will also ensure that due process is appropriately followed through all phases of a drug crimes case.
Remember that every American citizen has the right to an attorney when arrested, and it’s possible to secure legal representation from a public defender free of charge. The majority of public defenders are reliable, hardworking attorneys, but they simply cannot provide the same level of personal attention that a client can expect from a private defense firm. This is simply because most public defenders juggle several cases at any given time. Hiring an experienced Sacramento drug crimes attorney with a solid record of successful defense cases is one of the best ways to protect yourself when you are uncertain of the gravity of the drug charges you currently face.
It’s possible for a drug crimes case to extend to the state level or the federal level depending on the severity of the charges alleged in the case. For example, simple possession of a controlled substance that was clearly intended for personal use will carry a far lighter sentence than possession of several pounds of an illicit drug packaged for sale or transport across state lines. Your Sacramento drug crimes attorney’s job is to identify the best possible way to reduce the charges you face and minimize your sentence.
How to Choose the Right Defense Attorney for You
When you or a loved one is arrested on drug charges, time is a critical factor when it comes to defending yourself. However, you mustn’t rush your decision to hire a Sacramento drug crimes lawyer. Take time to research local options for legal representation and consider asking friends and family for their recommendations. You can also check online to look up attorney reviews in your area and narrow down your search to a handful of candidates that look most promising to you.
Many criminal defense attorneys offer discounted or complimentary case evaluations for new clients. You should take advantage of any free consultation offers you find from local Sacramento drug crimes lawyers and schedule meetings with potential legal representatives. A consultation is just as much an opportunity for you to learn more about your attorney as it is an opportunity for a potential attorney to learn more about your case. Develop multiple questions about your current situation that can help you gauge an attorney’s ability to successfully manage your legal representation.
Ask a potential Sacramento drug crimes attorney about their case history, how many cases they have handled similar to your own, and the outcomes of those cases. A good defense attorney should provide you with a frank interpretation of your situation, likely outcomes, and a breakdown of how the attorney can assist in your case. Your attorney should advise you of the obstacles you are likely to face in your forthcoming proceedings, potential plea-bargaining opportunities, and what to expect from sentencing.
When you choose the Ward Firm as your Sacramento drug crimes lawyers, you can rest assured you will have the full weight of a dedicated and experienced team of legal professionals working on your defense.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation Right Away
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 out our online contact form.