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Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyers in Vista


Charged with Manufacturing, Transporting, or Distributing?

Drug trafficking is a blanket term for a variety of drug-related charges, most notably the manufacture, transportation, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs and controlled substances. People often imagine pounds of cocaine being hidden in the trunk of a car or gangs manufacturing rooms full of designer drugs, but you can be charged with trafficking in a variety of scenarios. Transporting any illegal drug or controlled substance across a border, whether it is a county, state, or national border, can lead to a serious drug charge.

If you have been arrested for drug trafficking, you will not only need to know the specifics of your charges but also find a lawyer who can handle them all. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, Vista defense attorney James N. Dicks has a Board Certification in Criminal Law and was once a police officer, giving him total comprehension of all drug crime charges and the defenses against them. If you want to retain his services, be sure to call (760) 630-2000 now and schedule a free initial consultation.

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Influential Factors on Drug Trafficking Crimes

Due to the generalness of the term “drug trafficking,” the charges you face will be specific to your case. Numerous elements will come into play to formulate actual drug charges and, in turn, this will influence the potential penalties you might receive if convicted. Drug trafficking and drug sales are also two separate charges in California, which can be confusing. But the team at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys has knowledge of the various drug charges and can guide you through building a defense.

Transporting drugs is a violation of California Health and Safety Code 11379 HS, which makes it illegal to both personally transport controlled substances or illegal drugs AND to offer to transport the same. This includes moving drugs across county, state, or country lines. For example, if you were arrested while driving on the I-15 N into Riverside County with illegal substances in the car, it could be considered drug trafficking.

The four main aspects that influence a drug trafficking charge are:

  1. Intent: Being in possession of an illegal substance does not mean you wanted to participate in drug trafficking. The prosecution will want to prove that you had the intent to handle it for reasons other than personal use.
  2. Amount: A couple ounces of an illicit drug, even a Schedule I drug like marijuana, is probably not enough to constitute drug trafficking. Having a couple pounds of a substance, however, could. The more of a drug the police found on your person or on your property, the worse your penalties will be.
  3. Movement: Is there any proof that the illegal drugs actually moved or traded hands at any point? Or could it be said that no trafficking was ever completed? The answer will heavily influence how your case will be handled and how the prosecution will build their argument.
  4. Connections: The prosecution will bring its full force against you if they suspect the controlled substances moved over state lines or are related to a cartel or criminal group that operates in multiple states. Confirmation of these suspicions will escalate your charges to federal crimes.

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Who Investigates Drug Trafficking Cases?

For minor offenses like possession, your case will likely be handled by the Vista branch of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. With drug trafficking, depending on the circumstances, your case could be handled by the DEA, FBI, or Border Patrol, all of which have numerous resources at their disposal. They can swiftly dig into your private life and background during their investigation to build a case against you.

Beating these charges means working with an attorney who understands the complexities of these investigations. Luckily for you, James N. Dicks is a former LAPD narcotics investigator and Certified Criminal Law Specialist in California. He knows how prosecutors think during these cases and how to fight back against the harsh penalties that accompany these charges.

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Penalties for Drug Trafficking

It is important to understand that illegally transporting drugs can lead to both state and federal charges, depending on who is handling your case. You will typically face federal charges if you were arrested by a federal officer.

If you are charged in a Vista court, the penalties for trafficking can include:

  • Up to two, three, or four years in state prison;
  • Up to $10,000 in fines;
  • A strike on your record; and/or
  • Felony probation.

The severity of your punishment will depend on the type of drug you were charged with trafficking, where the arrest occurred, and whether someone was injured during the crime. Traveling between two or more California counties, for example, can extend your state sentence to up to nine years in prison. Transporting drugs near a Vista public school or a San Diego County homeless shelter can result in another year being added to your sentence. These same enhancements may apply to your federal charges.

In most cases, first-time offenders are sentenced to at least five years in prison, but if you have a prior conviction, it may result in life in prison. With drug trafficking charges, it is not possible for a defendant to enter a diversion program to avoid a conviction. Because of this, it is vital that you work with a knowledgeable attorney who can fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

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Defending Against Drug Charges

Beating drug trafficking charges will come down to the specifics of your case and the nature of your arrest. The prosecution must show that you had knowledge of the drugs in your possession, that you were not authorized to transport drugs (such as if you were a veterinarian or pharmacist), that you transported the drugs a significant distance, and that the quantity of drugs in your possession suggested you would be selling them. Based on this, jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys can launch a variety of defenses, including:

  • You were not aware that you were transporting a controlled substance.
  • The drugs in your possession were for personal use.
  • You had a legal right to transport the drugs.
  • The police performed an illegal search and seizure.

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Acting Fast Can Bring a Positive Conclusion

Prison time, high fines, probation, and more penalties can all loom over you as you await your trial for drug trafficking charges. Rather than waiting and worrying, take action and put matters into your own hands with the help of Vista criminal attorney James N. Dicks. You will find that the sooner you retain our firm’s services, the sooner you will feel the stress of the situation dissipate. Knowing that you have an experienced and highly-acclaimed fighter in your corner can make all the difference in the world.

Do not worry about upfront costs. Your case evaluation is free and confidential.

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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 Criminal Defense Attorneys

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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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