Orange County Heroin Defense Attorney
Being charged with possession of heroin in California carries significant penalties that can alter the course of your life. Not only are you at risk of spending time in prison, but you also can end up with a drug conviction on your criminal record—which can impact your ability to be employed, immigration status, and right to carry a gun.
Thankfully, there are several effective legal defenses against drug charges, and our team at the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti has decades of experience fighting drug charges—and winning. If you or your loved one has been charged with a heroin-related crime, then contact an Orange County heroin defense attorney at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to get the best legal defense available.
Controlled substances in California are classified based on the physiological impact on the human body and the likelihood of abuse. These classifications are called “schedules,” and the range from Schedule V (least severe) to Schedule I (most severe).
Heroin, as one of the most dangerous and abused substances, is classified as Schedule I. Drug offenses that involve a Schedule I drug carry more severe penalties, and avoiding a conviction is of the utmost importance.
Possession of heroin is covered under California Health and Safety Code Section 11350 HSC and is typically classified as a misdemeanor unless you have a prior criminal record.
While you might think that possession would require having heroin on your person, “possession” in California is defined broadly, and it includes anything that you have direct control over: your clothing, your home, and your car, for example. You do not need to hold the drug to be charged with possession. For example, you can be charged if heroin is found:
- On your person
- In the trunk of your car
- In the closet of your home
- In your work locker
To be convicted of possession of heroin under Health and Safety Code 11350, the prosecutor must prove several points:
- You had heroin in your possession;
- You were aware of the presence of the heroin;
- You knew the substance was heroin; and
- The substance existed in usable amounts (traces or residue that cannot reasonably be used are not actionable under the law).
However, with a strong defense and experienced attorney at your side, your attorney may disprove one or all of these arguments.
Simple possession of heroin is typically charged as a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, that is not the only charge you may face. Depending on the circumstances of your case, including where you were arrested and the amount of heroin you are accused of possessing, the prosecution may pursue a charge of:
- Possession with intent to sell: If it can be proven that you possessed heroin with the intent to sell it, you can be convicted of a felony that comes with two, three, or four years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $20,000. This charge requires the prosecution to demonstrate that you intended to sell heroin and that you had a sufficient quantity to facilitate a sale.
- Drug trafficking: Drug trafficking is covered under Health and Safety Code 11352 HS, which prohibits the sale of controlled substances, the transportation of controlled substances with the intent to sell, giving them to other people, or offering to do any of these actions. Drug trafficking is a felony and can result in up to nine years in prison with fines up to $20,000. Drug trafficking can also be significantly enhanced if you cross a state line, as federal agencies may become involved in the case.
Despite the severity of the crime, there are many valid defenses we can employ against heroin charges, including:
- You did not possess heroin
- You were unaware of its existence
- You had no intent to sell or transport heroin
- The search and seizure were unlawful (without a warrant or probable cause)
In some cases, you may qualify for an educational drug treatment program, which can result in the charges being dismissed upon completion of the program.
At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we have decades of experience representing and defending those who have been charged with possession of controlled substances. Our lead Orange County drug crimes defense attorney has extensive knowledge of the laws and precedents in California courts, as well as the experience it takes to mount an effective defense.
As a member of the National Trial Lawyer Top 100, you can be confident that if Michael Guisti takes on your case, it will be in qualified, professional hands that will do everything possible to get the charges dismissed or reduced, or achieve an acquittal at trial. Call us today at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free consultation.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.