San Joaquin Drug Crimes Lawyer
Criminal charges on drug-related offenses can change someone’s life overnight. In the short-term, they may face unfortunate prejudgment by those close to them. And if the District Attorney’s office presses ahead the case, defendants face jail time, hefty fines, and a criminal record trailing them around even after a sentence has been served. An experienced San Joaquin drug crimes lawyer, one who understands the justice system operates and where the pressure points are—can be valuable ally to the defendant at this critical point in their life.
From our San Joaquin office, Krueger Legal serves clients in all of Fresno, Sacramento, and Stanislaus counties. With over 10 years of experience in criminal law, we want to lead the fight for your reputation, your record, and your personal freedom.
Types of Drug Crimes in California
Drug charges can come in a variety of ways. They will generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Possession: Simply put, this is when illegal drugs are found with a person. Although not all possession cases can be put as simply as that. There is also constructive possession, which means that the drugs were not necessarily on the person of the defendant, but allegedly within their control. Or joint possession might apply if drugs are found in a home shared with someone else.
- Possession of Paraphernalia: There are certain objects, not illegal in themselves, that may be modified in a way that indicates they were for drug use. Pipes and syringes are a prime example of this.
- Possession with Intent: More serious charges can be brought if authorities believe the purpose of the defendant’s drug possession was to sell the illegal substances. The evidence for intent to sell can be based on the raw quantities of the drugs found—if it seems like too much for any reasonable person to believe that it was intended for personal use. Evidence for intent might also include the way drugs are cut and packaged, along with communications with buyers indicating the intent.
- Sale: If the authorities are able to prove the defendant actually did sell the drugs (not simply that they intended to), these charges may be filed.
The sale of drugs is, all else being equal, considered the most serious of these offenses. It can be classified as a “Three Strikes” violation. Under California law, when a person reaches their “third strike” of certain felony crimes, the minimum sentence leaps all the way to 25 years in prison. To put that in perspective, depending on what type of drug was being sold, this is an offense that might otherwise be punished with a maximum of 5 years behind bars.
The type of drug used is also a significant factor in what the potential penalties for conviction are. The California Health & Safety Code divides drugs into five categories, or “Schedules”. The schedules are based on how addictive a drug is, and whether it has any legitimate use.
At the top of the scale is Schedule I. These are drugs that have no legitimate use and are very likely to get someone addicted. Cocaine and ecstasy are prime example. The other extreme is Schedule V, where the drugs have a low possibility for addiction and might be legitimately used with a prescription. Codeine is an example. In between these extremes, are three other schedules.
The combination of the type of offense, type of drug, and prior record of the defendant all go into making up what type of penalties a prosecutor may seek, and a judge might hand down—if , that is, the defendant is convicted.
4th Amendment Defense Strategies
There are several defense strategies available, and the unique facts of each case will be decisive in how legal counsel will proceed. But one good place to start is the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This part of the Bill of Rights is what protects people from unlawful search and seizure—meaning police must have probable cause, a search warrant, or both, when conducting their searches for evidence.
The 4th Amendment applies in all criminal cases, but it can be particularly relevant to drug crime investigations. The need for physical evidence is often crucial to a prosecutor. That physical evidence can be the drugs themselves, the actual communications that indicate intent, the paraphernalia, or any other tangible piece of evidence that can be presented to the jury.
What happens if law enforcement does not follow proper 4th Amendment protocol in getting that evidence? Did they have a warrant to conduct their search? Was that warrant based on probable cause? These are questions that have to be asked and investigated. If it turns out a search was illegal, then all evidence either directly from that search or traceable to the search, cannot be presented at trial. In drug crime cases, it’s well possible that an inability to present physical evidence can sink a prosecutor’s case. A San Joaquin drug crimes lawyer should most certainly look into this. And at Krueger Legal, we know where to look.
Krueger Legal’s founding partner, Attorney Phillip Krueger, knows better than most defense lawyers about the unique challenges prosecutors face in building cases. That’s because he was a prosecutor himself. Having that unique perspective is a valuable aid in understanding where to investigate, what to look for, and what to ask.
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