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Vista Drug Possession Attorneys


Charged with a Drug Crime? Call jD LAW Today at (760) 630-2000

California is not the lenient state many believe it to be when it comes to drug crimes. In reality, the state will prosecute anyone who is found to be in illegal possession of a controlled substance as harshly as it can and as often as it can. While first-time offenders may be eligible for rehab and treatment instead of jail time, many offenders are still imprisoned on seemingly minor offenses.

If you have been arrested for drug possession crimes in Southern California, let Vista drug crime defense attorney James N. Dicks of jD LAW know right away. As a former narcotics investigator and board-certified criminal law specialist, he has a thorough understanding of how prosecutors convict drug offenders and how to fight back. Our firm has more than 30 years of experience representing clients throughout North County and can provide a diligent defense on your behalf.

Don’t gamble with your future. Contact jD LAW today by calling (760) 630-2000 and schedule a free consultation.

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Drug Possession Classifications in California

Possession is one of the lightest drug crimes in California, but it is still taken seriously by our criminal justice system. Being accused of having illegal drugs or certain medication without a prescription can damage your reputation, impact your career, and result in criminal penalties.

For you to be convicted of possession according to California Health and Safety Code 11350, a district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  1. Had a controlled substance on your possession (physical person, home, car, work locker, etc.).
  2. Did not have a legal prescription from a licensed doctor, veterinarian, podiatrist, or dentist.
  3. Knew you possessed a controlled substance;
  4. Were aware that the substance you possessed was an illegal drug as opposed to an over-the-counter medication.
  5. Had an amount of the substance that was considered usable.

Controlled substances can include both illegal drugs as outlined by the Controlled Substance Act as well as certain prescription medications, which include:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamines
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • Morphine
  • OxyContin
  • Vicodin

While marijuana is legal for possession and use by adults in California, anyone under the age of 21 can still be charged under state law.

Drug possession ranges from a minor infraction to a misdemeanor or felony charge, all depending on the quantity of drugs you were accused of possessing, the nature of your arrest, your criminal history, and the types of drugs involved in your case.

Generally, for first-time offenders, North County courts focus on rehabilitating drug addicts, which means you may be eligible for a drug diversion program instead of jail time. Small amounts of drugs can result in an infraction, but such crimes are considerably rare due to the fact that trace amounts of a substance are required. In most cases, the crime will be considered a misdemeanor if only a few ounces are found on your person, and even up to a pound of drugs may not lead to a felony.

Penalties for Possession

If this is your first offense, then you may only be charged with an infraction, which may result in a small fee, but most North County courts charge defendants with misdemeanors. Misdemeanor possession of drugs can result in:

  • Up to one year in a county jail;
  • A fine of up to $1,000; and/or
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Drug possession can also result in negative consequences for immigrants, such as deportation, even if you have a visa or Green Card.

It is important to take your charges seriously and speak to an attorney as soon as possible. With a strong legal defense, you may be eligible to enter a diversion program to have your charges dismissed or dropped altogether.

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Am I Eligible for a Drug Diversion Program?

In recent years, California has developed several diversion programs for non-violent criminal offenses, which allow defendants to avoid jail time by completing counseling, classes, community service, and other programs. Locally, San Diego County has a dedicated Adult Drug Court that focuses on diverting non-violent drug offenders away from jail by encouraging them to receive substance abuse treatment. Vista offenders may be eligible to enter the North County Division Adult Drug Court if:

  • They are a first-time offender;
  • They were not charged with a violent crime; and
  • They were not charged with possession with intent to sell.

This program can include mandated counseling, court supervision, weekly to biweekly court hearings, drug testing, group therapy, detox and rehabilitation, job training, classes to complete a GED, and other services.

Even if you are not eligible for the North County Drug Court, you may be eligible for Drug Probation under Proposition 36 or can enter a Deferred Entry of Judgment Program under PC 1000, which will allow you to complete a rehabilitation program to have your charges dismissed. In any case, you will want to discuss your options with an experienced lawyer before you agree to a deal with the district attorney.

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Defenses to Drug Possession Crimes

For every crime on the books, there is at least one way to defend yourself against it. jD LAW is well known throughout Vista, Escondido, and the surrounding area for crafting creative and effective defense strategies for drug offenses. As a former narcotics investigator, our founder, James N. Dicks, understands how prosecutors pursue charges against defendants, what evidence they use, and how to dismantle their cases.

If you bring your case to us, we can defend you against a drug possession conviction by arguing:

  • Unlawful search and seizure: There are specific procedures all police officers must follow when searching and arresting a suspect. In many cases, they require an official warrant to search your clothes, home, or vehicle. Were you patted down by a police officer and subsequently arrested for possession? They might not have had the right to do so, making any evidence inadmissible.
  • Medical necessity: Sometimes a person is carrying a drug for medical use and may do so legally but does not have the documents to show it. This is commonly the case for drug possession arrests involving medical marijuana or pain medication.
  • Mistaken identity: Drug possession charges can sometimes stem from an illegal substance found in a public place, such as the living room of your home. If you share the abode with other people, it is up to the prosecution to prove that you not only knew the drugs were there but also that they were yours and not someone else’s.

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Talk to a Vista Attorney About Your Defense

If you or someone you love has been charged with drug possession in Vista, turn to jD LAW for smart, reliable defense. From the beginning of your case to the end of your trial, our Vista criminal defense attorney can take hold of your defense strategy, remove the stress off your shoulders, and take all the legal troubles and paperwork off your plate.

Why hire James N. Dicks?

Contact jD LAW online or call (760) 630-2000 now to learn more about our services and what we can do for you in a free consultation.

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A note from James N. Dicks:

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.

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