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Torrance Drug Crime Lawyer

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Drug Crimes Attorney in Torrance, CA

If you are facing a drug charge, you may be able to keep a clean record by investigating the details of your arrest. Mistakes occur, and our team knows how to investigate the nature of the arrest. In addition, our team, including a board-certified criminal defense lawyer, will aggressively defend you and your innocence.

Our attorneys at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, have practiced criminal law for more than 60 years. We utilize our knowledge of how the prosecution works to identify your best possible solutions and create a strategy to obtain them. We represent you as if your legal problems were our own, and you can rely on us to accurately investigate your drug offense charge.

How California Drug Laws Apply to Your Case

California drug laws are complex, and the consequences depend on the type of drug and the amount. In addition, the consequences for marijuana-related charges vary from the consequences for other controlled substances.

Drug Possession

One of the most common drug charges that you can face in California is for the possession of a controlled substance. A controlled drug is one that the government regulates, including “street drugs” like heroin and methamphetamines, as well as prescription drugs like fentanyl or morphine.

The type of drug that you are being charged with possessing, the amount of the substance and your criminal background can play a significant factor in the severity of your charges. For example, possession of a small amount of cocaine, under California Health and Safety Code 11350, is generally a misdemeanor, subject to penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. However, if you have a prior conviction for certain serious felonies, you may face felony charges with penalties, including up to three years in prison.

Drug Trafficking

While possessing drugs is a serious crime, trafficking drugs is even more severe. Trafficking drugs is an attempt to move them from one place to another so they can be sold. Like with drug possession, drug trafficking laws depend on the type of substance and the amount of it that you are charged with trafficking. The more of the substance and the more tightly regulated the substance is, the higher the penalties can be.

Selling Drugs

Finally, the law also criminalizes selling drugs. Like with possession and trafficking, the amount and the type of drug play a significant factor in the penalties that you can face, should you get convicted on the charges. Even if you have not sold any drugs and are not planning on selling the drugs to anyone, you can be charged with possession with the intent to sell based on the amount of drugs in your possession.

Defending Against Drug Charges

While drug charges are often serious, there are still defenses that can be raised to combat them and win in court. Here are some of the most common.

Illegal Search or Seizure

When police conduct an investigation, they need to abide by the requirements of the U.S. Constitution and your rights. If they violate these rights, any evidence they find that might have incriminated you on a drug charge may be excluded, which can prevent the prosecutor from proving their case.

The Substance Is Not A Controlled Drug

State chemical labs make mistakes all the time. If they made one while testing the substance that led to the drug charges you are facing, revealing the mistake can get those charges dismissed.

The Drugs Were Not Yours

In some cases, criminals place drugs in a location that could be attributed to belonging to an innocent person. For example, you could give someone a ride who is nervous about getting caught with drugs and stashes them under your seat. Unknowingly, you may get pulled over by the police and charged with a drug crime that you knew nothing about. If you can prove that the drugs were not yours, then it can significantly help your case.

Medical Marijuana

In the context of marijuana, people who are allowed to use the drug for medicinal purposes are allowed to have more of it than others. In some situations, though, police would rather make an arrest for drug possession than go through the process of finding out whether you are a legitimate medical marijuana user. In these cases, you could need a defense attorney to help the prosecutor show that you are allowed to carry the amount that was found on your person.

Recreational Marijuana

Since Jan. 1, 2018, California has made it legal to possess not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21. However, possession of more than the recreational limit, selling marijuana illegally or offering marijuana to anyone under the age of 21 can still result in criminal penalties.

Whether your drug offense is an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony, you will want professional legal guidance from one of our criminal defense attorneys.

What Qualifies as a Drug Offense?

A drug offense is any crime that involves the possession, sale, manufacture, or distribution of illegal drugs. This can include simple possession of drugs like marijuana and more serious offenses like trafficking or distribution. Drug offenses are typically prosecuted at the state level, but federal drug laws can also come into play in certain cases. The penalties for drug offenses vary depending on the severity of the crime, but they can range from a mild reprimand to a lengthy prison sentence. Sometimes, drug offenses can also result in asset forfeiture, meaning that the government can seize your property if they suspect that it was used in connection with a drug crime. If you have been officially charged with a drug offense, you must speak honestly with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.

Understanding the difference between these actions is critical to defending against drug charges:

Possession of a Controlled Substance

The first step in many drug cases is proving that the defendant possessed a controlled substance. To do this, the prosecutor must show that the defendant knew that the drug was illegal and that they knowingly and intentionally kept it. This can be difficult to prove, especially if the drug was found in a shared space like a car or an apartment. However, if the prosecutor can show that the defendant had exclusive control over the space where the drug was found, it may be easier to prove that they possessed it. There are a few different ways to defend against possession charges, including challenging the search that led to the drug being found or arguing that the defendant did not know that the drug was illegal.

Sale or Distribution of a Controlled Substance

The sale or distribution of drugs is a more serious offense than simple possession. To convict a defendant of sale or distribution, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant sold, delivered, or distributed a controlled substance. They must also prove that the defendant knew the drug was illegal and that they intended to sell it. This can be hard to prove, especially if the defendant did not directly sell the drug to an undercover officer or another individual who observed it. However, if the prosecutor can show that the defendant was in possession of a large quantity of the drug or that they were selling it in a public place, it may be easier to prove their case. There are a few different defenses to sale or distribution charges, including challenging the evidence against the defendant or arguing that the defendant did not know that the drug was illegal.

Manufacture of a Controlled Substance

The manufacture of drugs is a more serious offense than simple possession or sale. To convict a defendant of manufacture, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knowingly and intentionally produced a controlled substance. It is difficult to convince a jury of this charge, especially if the defendant did not directly produce the drug themselves. However, if the prosecutor can show that the defendant was in possession of the materials necessary to manufacture the drug or that they were manufacturing the drug in a public place, it may be easier to prove their case.

Trafficking of a Controlled Substance

Trafficking is the most serious drug offense, as trafficking drugs is often more harmful to society than the effects of simple possession, sale, or manufacture. This could be because trafficking often involves large quantities of drugs or selling drugs to particularly vulnerable people, like children or addicts. To convict a defendant of trafficking, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knowingly and intentionally transported a controlled substance. This can be difficult to prove, especially if the defendant did not directly transport the drug themselves. However, if the prosecutor can show that the defendant owned a large quantity of the drugs or was transporting them in a public place, they can more easily convince a jury of their argument.

What Evidence Can Help Prove Innocence in a Drug Possession Case?

Many people are unaware of a few different pieces of evidence that can help prove innocence in a drug possession case. These include:

  • The search warrant – If the police did not have a valid search warrant, then anything they found during the search cannot be used as evidence against you in court. Search warrants are intended to protect your constitutional rights, and if the police did not follow the proper procedure in obtaining one, then you may be able to get your charges dismissed.
  • The chain of custody – The prosecution must prove that the drugs seized by the police are the same drugs that were tested in the lab and will be presented as evidence in court. If there is any break in the chain of custody, then there is a chance that the drugs could have been tampered with or substituted, and this could lead to your charges being dismissed.
  • The type of drug – If the police seized a controlled substance, but the lab results showed that the substance is not a controlled substance, you cannot be convicted of possessing a controlled substance.
  • The amount of drug – There is a distinction between personal use amounts and possession with intent to sell. If the amount of drugs seized is consistent with personal use, you may be able to avoid a more serious charge.
  • The lab results – The prosecution must rely on the lab results to prove what type of drug it is and how much was seized. If the lab results are inaccurate, then the entire case against you could fall apart. Therefore, an attorney will investigate the lab to make sure that their results are dependable.
  • Witness testimony – If there are witnesses who can testify that you did not have possession of the drugs or that you were not using drugs, then this could help prove your innocence.
  • Surveillance footage – If there is surveillance footage of the area where the drugs were found, and you cannot be seen in the footage near the drugs, then this could help prove that you were not in possession of them.
  • Lack of fingerprints – If the police did not find your fingerprints on the drugs or drug packaging, it would be more difficult for them to make the connection that the drugs belonged to you. This DNA detail can be crucial in these types of cases.

We Offer Free Consultations in Southern California

At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, we offer a free consultation to begin preparing your aggressive drug crime defense. For more than 60 years, we have practiced criminal law, and we use that knowledge to create a strategy that can result in your best possible outcome. Robert Ernenwein is a former deputy district attorney, so we know the full process of the court system, and we are prepared to fight for you as if the charge were our own. Call our Torrance office at 310-375-5858 for your free consultation today. You can also schedule your request online by completing this contact form.

Alternative Sentences For Drug Crimes in California

Accused Of A Drug Crime? Find Out How To Stay Out Of Jail.

Being accused of a drug crime in Los Angeles or Orange County can be a scary experience, especially if you are facing a more serious drug offense, such as manufacturing drugs. At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, we have been able to get our clients’ charges reduced to lesser offenses, such as simple possession charges. A drug possession charge could make you eligible for an alternative sentence, including deferred entry of judgment, drug treatment under Proposition 36 or another minor penalty.

Deferred Entry Of Judgment

If you have never been accused of drug possession for personal use before, you may qualify for a deferred entry of judgment. In a deferred entry of judgment, you plead guilty to the charges, but the conviction does not go on your criminal record. You are given an 18-month period in which you will be required to take drug awareness and education classes for six months. As long as you do not have any further arrests or convictions during the 18 months, your case will be dismissed.

This option is not as simple as it sounds. You need to talk with an experienced Los Angeles drug attorney who can explain this alternative.

Proposition 36 Drug Program

In 2000, Proposition 36 was enacted, which requires drug treatment instead of jail time for most nonviolent drug offenders. If you are ineligible for a deferred entry of judgment, you may qualify for drug treatment under Proposition 36. You may complete the drug treatment as an outpatient or inpatient. To qualify, the drug conviction must be your first and it has to be a nonviolent offense, such as drug possession, under the influence of drugs, transportation of drugs for personal use or another similar charge.

There are other alternative sentences available that will keep you out of jail, such as probation, private drug treatment programs, or county or state-run drug treatment programs.

If you have been arrested for possession of drugs or another drug crime, you need to contact an experienced Torrance defense attorney by calling Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, at 310-375-5858. Robert Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney who will build a strong defense to keep you out of jail.

How To Avoid A Drug Crime Conviction in California

California Marijuana Possession Charge: Is Jail Inevitable?

If you are facing charges of marijuana possession, you need to know what you’re up against. It might seem like no big deal, but depending on your charges, you could be looking at years in prison. Despite the fact that many cities have ordinances relating to medical marijuana, for the most part, possession and selling of the drug is illegal in California.

Types of Marijuana Possession Charges

When you are accused of marijuana possession in Los Angeles, you are looking at one of the following:

  • Misdemeanor offense: A misdemeanor comes with some consequences, but the penalties are less severe than a felony. It is only a minor offense that could result in a small fine and no jail time.
  • Felony offense: In some situations, marijuana possession is considered a felony offense. This charge is more serious and could lead to a jail sentence and other penalties. If you were planning to sell the marijuana, you may be looking at up to four years in state prison.

Getting Your Marijuana Possession Case Dismissed

The good news is that there are defenses available when it comes to marijuana possession. There are also ways to avoid conviction altogether. For example, you can participate in a marijuana awareness program or some regimen of Narcotics Anonymous courses to get your case dismissed. If you have a medical marijuana card, you might also be able to get your charges dropped. An attorney can explain these options in more depth.

At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP , we know what it takes to keep our clients out of jail. We also are experienced in getting our clients’ cases dismissed completely. For more information or to get some answers to your questions, contact us today at 310-375-5858.

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