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Drug Possession

If you or a loved one are facing drug possession charges, it can be a frightening time for everyone involved. The consequences of a conviction for drug possession can be quite severe, and often times, the accused does not know where to start. If you have been accused of drug possession, the first step you should take is to contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer immediately. There are significant benefits to having a skilled attorney representing you from the outset of the entire process.

The most important benefit of contacting LACL early on in the process is that you will be scheduled for an initial consultation, where you will have an opportunity to provide your attorney with all the pertinent information surrounding your case. Providing a narrative of the events leading up to your arrest, while the information is still fresh in your mind will allow you to provide your attorney with thorough and accurate account of what happened. Having all the information is a critical component to a successful legal defense strategy. In the legal world, no fact is insignificant, and many cases are won and lost based on seemingly minor details. Once your attorney has all the information, they will begin hand crafting a theory of defense unique to you and your case.

Once your attorney has crafted a unique defense to your case, they will approach the District Attorney, and present a shortened version of their theory of your case in an effort to persuade the District Attorney to either dismiss the charges against you, or reduce the charges against you. The District Attorney does not pursue every case, they pursue the cases where there is enough evidence that they believe they have a strong chance of obtaining a conviction. As such, if your attorney presents a strong enough argument to the district Attorney, there is a strong possibility that the District Attorney will dismiss or reduce the charges.

Ultimately, your case may proceed to trial. The attorneys at Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer have decades of combined experience representing individual accused of criminal conduct in court, and have perfected the art of trial advocacy. The additional time your attorney had to prepare your case because you contacted them immediately after you were arrested will allow them to perfect their theory of defense, and present it persuasively to the jury.

Even the best attorneys cannot win every case, and sometimes their clients are convicted. A skilled attorney’s job is not over if their client has been convicted however. If you are convicted, the case will move to the sentencing phase, where the judge will decide what penalties to impose. Having a skilled attorney with you at this phase can have the tangible effect of resulting in a lesser penalty.

California Health and Safety Code §11350(a) establishes that is a crime to possess a controlled substance, unless you also have a legitimate prescription for that controlled substance. A “controlled substance” is any drug or chemical whose use, manufacture, or possession is restricted by the federal “Controlled Substances Act.”

The “Controlled Substances Act” identifies a number of substances including:

  • LSD;
  • Heroin
  • Vicodin
  • Opiates
  • Codeine
  • Cocaine
  • Peyote
  • Oxycotin

In order to be convicted for the crime of drug possession, the Prosecution must prove the following elements to the jury:

  1. You were in actual possession of a substance included in the “Controlled Substances Act”;
  2. You were aware that the substance was present;
  3. You were aware that the substance was a substance included in the “Controlled Substances Act”; AND
  4. You had enough of that substance to utilize iti

The Prosecution must prove every element of the crime of drug possession beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction against the accused. This requirement is set forth in the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Since the Prosecution bears a substantial burden, it is a common strategy to simply negate one or more of the elements the Prosecution is tasked with proving. Los Angeles Criminal lawyer has decades of combined experience representing clients accused of all manners of criminal conduct; including drug possession. As a result of their years of experience LACL has become one of the best criminal defense firms around, and have developed a deep understanding of criminal law. LACL prides itself on their exceptional service to their clients. Part of providing excellent service to our clients requires that we keep them informed of all aspects of their case. The remainder of this article will discuss: (1) the elements of drug possession, (2) the consequences associated with a conviction for drug possession; and (3) what Los Angeles Criminal lawyer can do to assist you if you are accused of drug possession.

Control and Possession

The Prosecution must first show that the Defendant actually had possession of a controlled substance. The prosecution can prove possession as either “actual” possession, or “constructive possession.”

“Actual” possession occurs when an individual has direct, and immediate control of the substance. If a Defendant is found to have an illegal substance in their pocket, backpack, satchel, or anything else immediately connected to the person of the Defendant, they will be deemed to have actual possession of the controlled substance.

“constructive” possession exists when the substance is not on your person, but is somewhere else where you have control over that location. If the illegal substance is found in your home, car, boat, or any other location you have control over, the Prosecution will have proven constructive possession, satisfying the first element of this crime.

Knowledge of the Substance

Next the Prosecution must show that you had actual knowledge that the substance was in your actual possession or constructive possession. Further, the Prosecution must show that you also knew that the substance was a controlled substance. Thus, if someone slipped an illegal substance into your backpack without your knowledge, you cannot be found to have committed the crime of drug possession. Further, even if you knew a substance was present, but you did not know the substance was a controlled substance, you also cannot be convicted of drug possession.

What is a Sufficient Quantity of the Substance?

Finally, the Prosecution must show that in addition to have control over an illegal substance, that you were aware of, is that you had a usable quantity of the substance. Thus small amounts will not suffice to maintain a conviction against you.

The Prosecution will introduce evidence in an attempt to prove the allegations against you, and Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer will fight to keep that evidence out while presenting evidence of their own to show your innocence. The attorneys at LACL have decades of experience representing clients accused of criminal conduct, and have become exceptionally skilled in trial advocacy. Further, if you are accused of drug possession, LACL will attempt to have you enrolled in a diversion program as opposed to fines and incarceration. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer we understand the impact a conviction for drug possession can have on your life, and we will fight to help you avoid those consequences. At LACL we treat every client like they’re our only client.

Consequences

If you are convicted , charged, or arrested for the crime of drug possession; and the Prosecution has the choice of how to pursue the case against you. Some District Attorneys take a harder stance on drug crimes than others, and it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with the various district attorneys in Los Angeles. Some of the consequences a District Attorney can pursue include:

  • Incarceration;
  • Financial sanctions;
  • Loss of driving privileges; AND
  • Probation

The punishments associated with a conviction for a drug crime become progressively more severe with each subsequent conviction an individual receives.

There are additional facts, which if proven, can give rise to more severe penalties. For example, if the Prosecution is able to prove that you possessed an illegal substance, AND you intended to sell that substance, you will face much harsher penalties than simple possession.

If you are convicted of drug possession, the conviction could negatively impact your life well after your conviction has been entered and you have completed the punishments imposed against you. It should be noted that a conviction for drug possession makes you ineligible to receive federal student loans, which has the practical effect of make attendance at school infinitely more difficult.

Penalties

Generally speaking, if you are charged with drug possession, you are being charged with a misdemeanor.

If you are convicted of misdemeanor drug possession you may face incarceration in a county jail for a period of no longer than six (6) months and/or a fine of up to one-thousand ($1,000) dollars.

If you have been convicted of one of the following felonies, drug possession will be charged as a felony:

  • Murder
  • A crime that is sexual in nature where the victim is under 14 at the time
  • Gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence
  • Sexual battery
  • Any conviction that requires you to register as a sex offender.

If you are convicted of felony drug possession, you may face incarceration in a California State Prison for a period ranging from 2 to 4 years and/or a fine of up to ten-thousand ($10,000) dollars.

I Have Been Accused of Drug Possession, How Can Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Assist Me?

The crime of drug possession is generally brought as a misdemeanor offense, but there are certain circumstances where the charge will be brought as a felony. Regardless of the nature of the charge, a conviction will appear on your criminal background check. Employers routinely investigate the criminal backgrounds of applicants for positions with their company in order to reduce the number of applicants they must consider. Employers are generally hesitant to hire individuals with criminal history. Further, a conviction for drug possession will bar you from receiving federal student loans in the future.

In light of the consequences associated with a conviction, it is important to obtain skilled legal counsel to avoid a conviction, or obtain a favorable outcome despite a conviction. Los Angeles Criminal lawyer will fight to keep the charges from being brought against you, have the charges against you reduced, and enroll you in a diversion program to avoid a conviction on your record, or obtain a reduced sentence for you.

At trial your LACL attorney will raise a number of defenses on your behalf including:

  • The Defendant had a prescription for the substance they were found to be in possession of

Most people do not carry their prescription around with them. As such, it is common for an officer to arrest an individual for drug possession based on the absence of a prescription. Ultimately, the charges will be dropped if LACL can present the prescription to the District Attorney.

  • The Defendant did not possess an illegal substance
  • The Defendant did not know that the substance was an illegal substance
  • Violation of the Defendant’s Constitutional Rights

If you or a loved one has been accused of drug possession, contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer at 310-502-1314 today for a FREE consultation.


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