Orange County Drug Possession Defense Attorneys
Have you been charged with drug possession? Unsure of what steps to take next? At Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we can help you through the process and work to get your charges reduced or dismissed. No matter what the circumstances are surrounding your case, we are prepared to handle your charges.
With years of experience in criminal defense, our Orange County drug crime lawyer provides aggressive and fierce representation. Make sure you retain the right attorney for your case by calling on our firm today! We have a proven record of success and know how to defend our clients against even the toughest prosecutors. Call our office today at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free consultation.
A drug charge, no matter how minor, has the potential to ruin future employment prospects, damage relationships, and scar a permanent record. As liberal as California is, our state still follows many of the laws created during the War on Drugs, which classified certain drugs as controlled substances and placed them into federal Schedules. These Schedules range in severity from Schedule I drugs, which include heroin, to Schedule V drugs, which include certain prescription medications that have medical uses. If you have a prescription for one of these controlled substances, then you cannot be charged with possession.
Over time, California has attempted to decriminalize, and even legalize, certain drugs. For example, it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis. However, if you are caught with more than the legal amount, you can be charged with misdemeanor drug possession or intent to sell, if the police suspect you of illegally distributing drugs.
Despite recent changes in our state laws, Orange County prosecutors can still pursue harsh penalties for people caught violating California Health and Safety Code §11350(a).
Specifically, the law prohibits the following:
- Prescription drugs (without a valid prescription) such as OxyContin, codeine, and Vicodin
- Marijuana (if you are under 21 years old, or in large quantities)
In order to prove you "possessed" a controlled substance, the District Attorney must be able to show that, first, you knew of the drug's presence, and second, you knew of its nature as a controlled substance.
Possession is considered a wobbler in California, meaning you can face either a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on the seriousness of your crime. For first-time offenders found in possession of heroin, the charge may only be a misdemeanor, and the defendant may be eligible for a drug diversion program. However, if you have a prior conviction or were found with a large quantity of drugs, then your charge could be increased to a felony. It is also possible for individuals younger than 18 in possession of marijuana to be charged with an infraction, while anyone between the ages of 18 and 20 can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Depending on the factors surrounding your case, you could face the following penalties:
- Misdemeanor drug possession: If convicted of misdemeanor possession, you face up to one year in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000 fine.
- Felony drug possession: If convicted of felony possession, you may have to serve 16 months, two or three years in a state prison, a $10,000 fine, or felony probation. These charges are usually reserved for individuals who have previously been convicted of a serious felony or are registered sex offenders.
- Alternative sentencing: With various programs under Proposition 36 and Penal Code 1000, if you could serve your time in a drug treatment program and avoid jail time.
California has lighter punishments for juveniles charged with possession. In most cases, instead of facing a criminal court, a minor under the age of 18 will be judged by a juvenile court for simple possession. Juvenile drug cases, while still serious, have lighter sentences for conviction. Possession of marijuana may result in a simple warning, community service, and a rehabilitation program.
If your child has been charged with possession, it is still important to contact an OC juvenile defense attorney to plan your child’s defense. A conviction for possession could impact your child’s academic career, especially if they are interviewing for college and scholarships, are involved in athletic programs, or participate in other academic programs. Our team can investigate your child’s case and push to have the case dropped entirely, ensuring a brighter future for your child.
California has implemented several drug diversion programs over the years as an alternative for individuals who need help dealing with addiction and substance abuse issues, instead of packing them in jail. The two main laws that govern these programs are Prop 36 and PC 1000.
Under Prop 36, first- and second-time offenders charged with drug possession can enter into a drug diversion program, which may include detox, counseling, and substance abuse education for up to one year, with the possibility of the program extended to 18 months or two years. In order to be eligible for alternative sentencing under Prop 36, you must:
- Have been convicted with a non-violent drug offense (such as possession);
- Not have a strike on your record according to the Three Strikes Law;
- Not have been convicted of a non-drug-related misdemeanor or a felony crime within a certain time; and
- Not have been accepted to a Prop 36 drug diversion program twice in the past.
Alternatively, you may also be eligible for PC 1000, which allows defendants to enter into a drug diversion program for between 18 months and three years if they:
- Have been charged with simple possession;
- Have not been convicted of a serious drug or violent crime; and
- Have not been convicted with a felony within the past five years.
The OC Health Care Agency’s Behavioral Health Services oversees Orange County’s PC 1000 diversion program. Through this agency, first-time offenders can enter into a 32-hour drug program that includes education and counseling, self-help meetings, and random drug testing with a specific provider. It is important to know that each provider has different rates, which you may be expected to pay, but entry into one of these programs will allow you to avoid jail time and higher court fees.
While it may seem impossible to fight charges involving drugs found on your person or your property, this is not always the case. Our experienced defense lawyers may be able to build a strong case on your behalf in the face of the toughest evidence.
Some details that may help reduce or dismiss your charges include the following:
- You have valid prescription
- There was a very small quantity of the drug
- You were unaware that you had illegal drugs in your possession
- The search and seizure was illegal
- You did not possess enough drugs to use
Under certain circumstances, you might also have a way out of serious drug possession charges through Proposition 47, which reduced certain felonies to misdemeanors.
If you or someone you love has been charged with possessing illegal drugs, you need to contact the legal team at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. Our lead attorney is a member of the Nation's Top Attorneys, as selected by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, and can provide the rigorous defense you need. We can analyze every piece of evidence against you and build a strong case on your behalf Call our office at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 right away. We offer free consultations and will review your case as quickly as possible.
- California Health & Safety Code § 11357 - Possession
- California Health & Safety Code § 11359 - Possession for Sale
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.