Many people tend to assume that if they are arrested on suspicion of a drug crime, they will automatically be convicted and that their lives will be devastated. Certainly, drug charges are serious and could result in long-term or even lifelong consequences.
Drug crimes could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. It depends on the nature and circumstances of your arrest, the number of drugs and/or paraphernalia that were seized, and your prior criminal record. However, there are a number of myths and misconceptions that exist around drug crimes and defending them.
Here are a few of those misconceptions we’ve attempted to clear so you get a clear picture of how these cases are prosecuted and what you need to do in order to successfully defend the drug crime charges you are facing.
1. “A DRUG CRIME IS NOT SERIOUS. I CAN HANDLE IT ON MY OWN.”
This is not true and it can be a grave mistake to try and sort it out on your own. Even a misdemeanor charge such as possession of a small number of drugs or drug paraphernalia can turn out to be a serious charge.
If you are a first-time offender, you may be eligible for alternative sentencing or probation. So, there is a good chance you may not get jail time if you agree to complete a drug treatment program or other conditions imposed by the court.
Drug laws in California are complex and challenging to comprehend. Refusing to retain an experienced drug lawyer to represent you can be a huge mistake, one you may not be able to recover from.
If you have been charged with a felony drug crime or a federal offense, you may be looking at even more serious consequences including prison time. Don’t try to do this alone.
2. “IF I TALK TO THE POLICE, THEY ARE LIKELY TO DISMISS MY CHARGES.”
While this is possible, it is often not the case and it’s certainly not guaranteed. On the other hand, when you talk to the cops, what you say will likely be used against you later.
While in some cases, you may be able to talk to the police, it should never be done without an attorney present. Although police may appear friendly and tell you that they are acting in your best interest, most often, they are not acting in your best interest.
They are trying to build a case against you and they will use what you say against you. So, if you are arrested on suspicion of a drug crime, it is best to remain silent.
Exercise your right to remain silent and get an attorney on your side who will protect your rights every step of the way. Never make a statement or sign any type of statement without first consulting your attorney.
3. “I'M REQUIRED TO GIVE CONSENT TO POLICE TO SEARCH MY PERSON, HOME OR MY VEHICLE.”
This is absolutely not true. In fact, it is never a good idea to give consent to law enforcement agencies to search your person, vehicle, or home. If police come to your home, do not open the door.
Ask to see a search warrant and if possible, ask them to show it to you under the door. Never freely give consent to search. If a police officer does not have a search warrant that is issued by a court, do not agree to the search.
Police may still potentially search your home or car, but that will hold up in court only if the legal requirements are met. Evidence obtained through illegal search and seizure will not be admissible in court.
So, if the police obtained the drugs from you by illegally searching your vehicle, that evidence would have to be thrown out, which means your drug charges must be dismissed. The U.S. Constitution affords you the right to be safe and secure in your home and you should exercise that right.
Remember, if police decide to search without your consent, step aside and let them do so. Never try to physically resist a search. This could result in additional criminal charges.
4. “DRUG LAWS ARE FAIR AND EQUITABLE.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. In our experience of handling numerous drug crime cases, we’ve found that drug laws are extremely complex. In fact, they are harsh and inequitable. For example, in California medical marijuana has been legal for decades.
However, possessing marijuana, even for medical use, is illegal under federal law. So if you could be charged for drug possession if you are on federal lands, such as, in a national park. These discrepancies between state and federal drug laws have resulted in headaches for a lot of people.
In addition, if you are convicted of a felony drug crime, you could be deported. A drug crime could also be counted as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. You could potentially end up in prison for life because of a drug conviction.
5. “I SHOULD ALLOW MY CHILD TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A DRUG CRIME CONVICTION SO HE OR SHE WILL LEARN A LESSON.”
It is understandable why you might want to do this as a parent. However, the criminal justice system can be merciless and could severely punish a juvenile or a young adult who might have lacked judgment or made a series of mistakes instead of giving them a second chance.
If your child is treated as an adult, you cannot get the conviction expunged from his or her record. This could affect your child’s ability to get a federally subsidized student loan, enter the military, get a job, or even go to college.
What you do need to take away from all of this is the fact that a drug crime charge is not the end of the world. Our experienced, knowledgeable, and resourceful drug crime defense lawyers are here to help build a strong defense in your case and assist you in getting an acquittal, charges reduced, or obtaining alternative sentencing. Contact us to find out how we can help you.