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Being arrested for a drug crime in California is never a positive experience, regardless of the charge level. Every suspect is subject to the same arrest protocol and could potentially have been apprehended under false pretenses in a manner that does not follow proper police protocol. Individuals arrested on drug charges are commonly detained after being the victim of an illegal search and seizure by an over-zealous police officer, while others are arrested following the issuance of warrants that were obtained on embellished information. The police are generally not concerned about the rights of the defendants as much as arresting as many drug users as possible, an attitude that is not always good for people who may be caught in the middle of a criminal situation. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can be a real advantage following an arrest, regardless of the material case facts.
What a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Do
Having an aggressive criminal defense attorney representing your case means initially that all evidence being used in pursuit of a drug conviction can be scrutinized for validity regarding chemical consistency and legal seizure. It is not uncommon for a drug case to be dismissed or greatly reduced when material evidence is flimsy or borderline. Individuals who are apprehended on warrants can have their identify verified by a separate investigation as well that an be performed by a personal criminal defense attorney. The police often arrest individuals on faulty information, including statements given to a judge in requesting the warrant, and the wrong individual can easily be arrested. This is more common than many people realize in a major metropolitan area, and an experienced Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer will know how to conduct a counter investigation on behalf of their client, including questioning all police officers involved in the detainment.
Luckily for individuals in the state of California who use drugs responsibly, marijuana was legalized in 2016 for up to an ounce for personal use and authorization to grow up to six plants in a concealed growing operation. This can keep personal users in good graces with the courts as long as they stay within the limits of the new legislation. California also changed the level of some possession cases from felony to misdemeanor, but convictions still carry up to three years in a state prison. In addition, recent legislation also allows convicted defendant to petition the court for a status reduction from felony to misdemeanor after an unfavorable conviction. All Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are aware of this exception in criminal classification, normally working diligently to keep their clients out of convicted felon status.
Controlled Substances and Narcotics
There are still many controlled substances outside of THC-based drugs remaining on the state contraband list that can result in significant penalties when convicted. Possession of minimal amounts of cocaine, heroin, or hydrocodone for personal use are prosecuted as misdemeanors just as with marijuana, but there is a fine line between what is a personal use arrest and what is a trafficking arrest, regardless of the type of drug. This can even include marijuana when the defendant is not authorized to manufacture marijuana for the state-run business. Many officers still attempt to file felony charges in misdemeanor situations by unacceptable methods. A criminal defense attorney can ensure all charges are filed appropriately according to classification, as personal use defendants are eligible for re-sentencing or a case diversion and trafficking defendants are restricted from this case settlement option.
Public Defender vs. a Personal Criminal Defense Lawyer
It is important for all defendants to remember that federal law requires that all individuals facing potential jail time to have adequate representation from experienced legal counsel. The problem is that the state of California typically assigns a public defender for those who need one who actually works for the same state enforcing the prosecution. Having a personal criminal lawyer representing your case means that all constitutional rights to legal defense will be enforced and respected by the state or the case can wind up in a trial, which few prosecutors really want unless they are wanting significantly enhanced punishment. Never merely accept what the state has to offer. Always retain a criminal defense attorney with a solid understanding of the new California drug laws and a strong track record of success for their clients.