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Get Quality Legal Help for Your Drug Charges in San Diego

The San Diego nightlife and Southern California's music festival scene are popular with residents and visitors. These events foster community engagement, artistic expression, and memorable experiences for attendees. However, amid the excitement, there could be a temptation to indulge in recreational drugs.

Recreational drug use can bring heavy legal consequences. Law enforcement increases efforts to combat drug-related activities at concerts and sporting events, often resulting in many arrests for drug offenses. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact our firm's San Diego criminal defense attorney.

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, our attorneys take your case seriously. Attorney James N. Dicks is uniquely qualified and experienced as a California State Bar-certified criminal defense specialist, former LAPD narcotics investigator, and drug recognition expert.

Once you have been arrested for a drug crime in North County, you must act quickly. The sooner our lawyers get involved, the more options you will have. Call our firm at (760) 334-5390 immediately after your arrest.

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Fighting the Penalties of a Drug Crime Conviction

Drug crime convictions carry significant penalties that impact your financial health and freedoms:

  • Fines: Fines can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the offense, the quantity of the drug, and prior convictions. Failure to pay fines can result in further legal consequences, such as additional fines or extended probation.
  • Probation: Probation typically lasts for a specified period, during which you will be required to comply with court-ordered conditions. Violating probation terms, such as failing drug tests or committing subsequent drug offenses, can lead to harsher penalties, including revocation of probation and incarceration.
  • Incarceration: The length of incarceration varies depending on factors such as the type and quantity of drugs involved, prior criminal history, and mitigating circumstances. A conviction may involve serving time in county jail or state prison.
  • Mandatory Rehabilitation Programs: Courts may mandate participation in drug treatment programs requiring inpatient or outpatient care, counseling, and support groups. Completing these programs is often a condition of probation or parole, with non-compliance leading to further legal consequences.
  • Licensing: Professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, or real estate agents, may face disciplinary actions or license suspension or revocation following a drug crime conviction. Losing professional credentials can jeopardize career prospects and impact the ability to practice your profession in the future.
  • Asset Forfeiture: Law enforcement can seize assets believed to be connected to drug-related activities, even when not yet convicted of a crime. You will face complex legal procedures to challenge asset forfeiture, which can lead to significant financial losses and challenges in regaining seized property.

These penalties underscore the serious repercussions of drug crime convictions, affecting your financial well-being, liberty, and future opportunities.

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Protecting Your Rights and Interests in San Diego

To best protect your legal rights and interests when accused of a drug crime, you should seek immediate legal representation from a skilled defense attorney experienced in handling drug cases. Exercise your right to remain silent and avoid discussing the case with anyone except your attorney. It is crucial to comply with law enforcement respectfully while asserting your right to legal counsel. Refrain from consenting to a search and make no statements without your attorney present. By cooperating with your legal counsel, understanding your rights, and following legal advice, you can safeguard your interests throughout the legal process.

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San Diego Pleading Options

In California, defendants facing drug charges have different options for pleading, including guilty pleas, no contest pleas, or pleading not guilty and proceeding to trial. Guilty pleas may result in reduced charges, lighter sentences, or avoidance of trial uncertainties. No contest pleas offer similar benefits without admitting culpability but still result in conviction. Pleading not guilty allows defendants to contest charges but risks harsher penalties if convicted at trial.

Defendants can anticipate plea bargains for reduced charges or alternative sentencing options, aiming to minimize consequences while acknowledging legal realities. Additionally, the strength of evidence presented by both the prosecution and defense plays a significant role.

Our defense attorney's legal strategies, like challenging evidence, negotiating plea bargains, or presenting alternative sentencing options, can make a significant difference in the penalties imposed by the court. It is critical to ensure you are protected by a talented criminal attorney if you are facing drug crime charges in California.

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What Are Drug Schedules?

Drug schedules are categories used to determine how harmful a drug is. The drug schedules listed under the California Health and Safety Code are based on federal drug schedules. Both the California and federal drug schedules have a scale from one to five, with Schedule I being the most harmful and Schedule V being the least harmful. The severity of a drug sentence is affected by the schedule of the drug:

  • Schedule I includes hazardous drugs that have no medical use and present a strong risk of addiction, including PCP, heroin, peyote, LSD, and cocaine base that is processed to be smoked.
  • Schedule II includes drugs that are likely to lead to abuse and addiction, such as Opium, Ritalin, fentanyl, Adderall, Codeine, Morphine, OxyContin, and Vicodin.
  • Schedule III includes drugs that may produce dependency, such as ketamine, testosterone, steroids, and nalorphine.
  • Schedule IV includes drugs that are approved for medical use but may cause addiction, such as Xanax, Ativan, Ambien, and Tramadol.
  • Schedule V includes drugs that are less likely to cause addiction, such as many types of cough syrup that contain codeine and Motofen, Lomotil, and Buprenorphine.

I will definitely always recommend him to others.

"James has handle 3 of our family’s cases they were all drug related cases. With his very good expertise and knowledge we got very good outcomes. If we need him again he would be our go to attorney I will definitely always recommend him to others. Thanks."

- Cindy

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Approaches to Defense

An effective approach to defending against drug charges involves attacking the prosecution's case on several levels and using different strategies. Some of the most common defense strategies include:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure Defense: One defense is to challenge the legality of the search and seizure that led to the discovery of the drugs. If law enforcement violated your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an illegal search without a warrant or probable cause, any evidence obtained may be deemed inadmissible in court.
  • Lack of Possession or Knowledge: Another defense strategy is to argue that you were not in possession of the drugs or were unaware of their presence. This defense can be effective if the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had control over the drugs or knew they were in your possession.
  • Entrapment Defense: If law enforcement officers induced or coerced you into committing a drug-related offense that you would not have otherwise committed, you may have a valid entrapment defense. Entrapment occurs when the government's actions would persuade a law-abiding person to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise.
  • Chain of Custody Issues: This defense challenges the integrity of the evidence by questioning the chain of custody. If there are gaps or inconsistencies in the documentation of how the evidence was handled from the time of seizure to the time it was presented in court, it may raise doubts about the reliability of the evidence.
  • Violation of Miranda Rights: If law enforcement officers fail to properly advise you of your Miranda rights during the arrest or interrogation process, your statements may be withheld as evidence. This defense can be particularly effective if your statements are pivotal to the prosecution's case.

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You May Be Eligible for a Drug Diversion Program in San Diego

Under California's Penal Code 1000 people who are charged with drug possession, being under the influence, and other types of drug charges may qualify for pretrial diversion instead of regular sentencing. After successfully completing drug treatment, the charges will be dismissed, and there will not be a criminal record.

To be eligible for PC 1000 pretrial diversion, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You are not charged with a violent offense
  • No felony convictions in the previous five years
  • There is no evidence of a more serious offense, such as trafficking or intent to sell drugs
  • No convictions in the past five years for a drug offense that does not qualify for PC 1000

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What Are Common Drug Crimes in San Diego?

As is evident from the name, drug crimes are crimes that include some involvement with drugs. The most common drug crimes in California are:

  • Possession. An individual has been charged for "possessing" a controlled substance, which can include illegal drugs like cocaine or having prescription drugs without a valid prescription.
  • Under the Influence. Many people believe that they cannot be charged with a crime if they are simply under the influence of an illegal drug but have none on their person or in their home. This is not true. Being under the influence of a drug is a type of possession and can be prosecuted under the law. The most common drugs related to this type of charge are methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy.
  • Possession with intent to sell. Being in possession of drugs with the intent to sell is a much more serious offense than simply having drugs for personal use. The severity of this charge will vary depending on the circumstances leading to the arrest, the amount of drugs that were present, and how they were packaged.
  • Transporting drugs. Transporting illegal drugs is a crime, but again, the charges can vary. Penalties would be greater if law enforcement believed that the drugs were being transported so they could be sold.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia are tools or instruments that are used to consume illegal drugs. The most common paraphernalia include hypodermic needles, pipes, bongs, torches, spoons, and syringes. Charges for possession of drug paraphernalia typically accompany other drug charges.
  • Driving under the influence. This is a term most people associate with alcohol, but it can pertain to drugs as well, including cannabis, which is now legal in the state of California. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs, even when a valid prescription accompanies those drugs, can also result in a charge. This is because drugs of any kind can seriously impair a person's judgement and ability to drive responsibly. This is a very serious offense that has strict penalties. This charge often accompanies other drug charges, such as possession or transporting.
  • Prescription drug fraud. This fraud can occur in two ways. The most common is when an individual forges a doctor's signature to fill a drug prescription. Another less common method is when a doctor prescribes a drug to a patient under false pretenses, often because he is receiving a fee from the manufacturers of the drug for dispensing it.

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What Are Some Aggravating Factors?

In recent years, California has become notorious for having some of the mildest drug-crime penalties in the country. While marijuana has been decriminalized, even for recreational use, possession of a harder drug like cocaine can still lead to penalties. State and federal laws have outlined specific penalties for certain charges — but California courts may choose to give harsher sentences when aggravating factors are involved.

In most cases, those factors include a large amount of the drug being carried or sold during the crime or a defendant's past criminal history. For instance, those in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana will no longer face penalties under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. But the Act also specifies that individuals carrying more than an ounce or possessing marijuana with the intent to sell will still face penalties.

If a person caught committing a drug crime also has a prior criminal record, regardless of whether those charges pertain to drugs or other criminal activity, they may also face more severe penalties.

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How Can a San Diego Drug Crime Lawyer Help?

When an individual is charged with a drug crime, there are a number of stages involved in investigating and prosecuting the crime. The typical process:

  • The crime will be investigated by California state or local law enforcement, which will have a search warrant for the person's home, car, or other personal possessions. A San Diego criminal defense attorney can help ensure these searches are conducted lawfully.
  • Investigators will interrogate the suspect and any potential witnesses to gain more information about the crime. A lawyer can also ensure that the rights of the individuals being questioned are maintained at all times.
  • When probable cause has been shown (that a person has committed a crime), that person may be arrested. An attorney can also protect the suspect's civil rights during this process by ensuring that a Miranda warning is given and that the accused has access to a lawyer.
  • An arraignment is scheduled for the accused to hear the charges being pressed against them. After this, the accused may be taken into custody or released on bail until the trial date. A lawyer can fight to get the individual released on bail and make arrangements with family members to have bail brought to the courthouse while the accused is being held.
  • A trial date will be set so the innocence or guilt of the accused can be determined. During this time, an attorney will fight hard for the accused in an effort to prove their innocence or have the charges reduced.

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Connect with a Board-Certified Criminal Law Specialist in San Diego

The laws concerning drug crimes can be complex. The type and quantity of the drug involved in your charge, in addition to your past criminal record, are important factors that will influence the penalties you could face upon conviction. Of course, you may also be innocent of the charges.

You need experienced, knowledgeable legal assistance when facing any drug crime charge, and jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys is dedicated to providing our clients with a well-crafted, strategic defense.

We will seek to have charges dismissed, achieve an acquittal if your case goes to trial, or negotiate with the prosecution for lesser charges and penalties. James N. Dicks has numerous years of experience in defending drug crimes. He has attended various DUI classes and seminars to learn all there is to know about these crimes and uses that knowledge to help clients.

Contact us right away at (760) 334-5390 to discuss your San Diego or Vista drug crime case. We offer confidential consultations to discuss your options!

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Sample of Case Results

  • Multiple Drug Charges -
    Charges Reduced
  • Multiple Drug Charges -
    Case Dismissed
  • Drug Charges and Concealing a Firearm -
    Proved Uninvolvement

View more case results here.

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