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Personalized Legal Attention In Drug Offense Cases

Facing a criminal conviction is a daunting and distressing experience, no matter your case. Unfortunately, drug crimes are among the most commonly prosecuted criminal offenses in California and throughout the United States. Every year, thousands of people are charged with and convicted of various drug-related offenses, ranging from simple possession to operating complex trafficking networks. While California enforces some of the relatively lightest penalties for drug-related crimes in the United States, it is still vital to understand your legal rights when faced with a drug offense charge in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA.

A drug crime attorney is the best asset you can have in this situation. Every American citizen has the constitutional right to legal counsel when charged with a criminal offense. You must take full advantage of this right if you are accused of a drug crime in California. Brown & Stedman LLP has years of experience defending clients in Costa Mesa, Rancho Santa Margarita, and surrounding communities in a wide variety of criminal cases, and we have successfully guided many clients through complex drug-related cases.

Why You Need an Orange County Drug Crime Attorney

If you cannot afford a private defense lawyer or do not wish to pay for one, the criminal court may appoint a public defender to handle your case free of charge. Many people mistakenly assume that this is the best way to handle a criminal case as it does not cost the defendant anything. However, there is a significant difference between what a public defender can provide to their client and what an experienced Orange County drug crime attorney can offer.

Most public defenders are capable and hardworking attorneys who do the best for every client assigned to them. However, their work requires them to manage several cases at a time, giving them very little flexibility to provide any one client with much personalized attention. When you choose Brown & Stedman LLP to represent you in a criminal case, you can expect access to the full range of our professional resources and vast experience in California criminal law.

When you want to know your attorney and you want your attorney to know you, you should come see us here at the law office of Brown & Stedman LLP. We have made personalized legal representation our firm’s professional mission throughout California’s Rancho Santa Margarita area and beyond.

We have done this because we want to help our clients and we can’t do that without getting to know each one. Our firm’s attorneys want to advise people closely when they are facing legal difficulties.

To do that most effectively, we work with you one-on-one, attorney to client. We do not make you fight to speak with your attorney. Instead, our attorneys communicate with you regularly.

By working closely with you, we learn your legal needs. We also learn your legal goals and how to tailor our representation to your specific concerns and those of your family.

We Know How To Protect Your Rights

Clients depend on us for a wide variety of drug offenses. We regularly advise clients with drug issues concerning, for instance:

  • Possession/sales. Drug possession is the most commonly prosecuted drug-related offense in the US. It is illegal to possess various illicit substances, regardless of whether you intend to consume them. California recently reduced penalties for drug possession offenses significantly, but it is still crucial to have reliable defense counsel represent you if you are charged with a drug possession violation. Possession with intent to sell is a more serious offense that carries harsher penalties.
  • Distribution. If you participated in a drug sales network and assisted with the distribution of illicit substances, you could face felony prosecution depending on the scope of your actions. The sale, transfer, import, and transport of illicit drugs can constitute a drug distribution violation punishable at the felony level with up to five years in prison.
  • Manufacturing. Some illegal drugs like crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine require chemical refinement processes conducted through drug manufacturing operations. If you are charged with drug manufacturing, you will almost certainly face a felony charge punishable by up to seven years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Trafficking. Drug trafficking is similar to drug distribution, but this offense involves crossing county or state lines to conduct a distribution operation. The penalty for drug trafficking conviction in California hinges on the amount trafficked, the distance traveled, and the defendant’s prior criminal history. When drug trafficking crosses multiple state lines, the offense can qualify as a federal crime.
  • Prescription drugs. It is possible to face criminal charges related to prescription medications. It is illegal to possess or consume any illicit drugs for which you do not have a lawful prescription from your doctor. There are many ways an individual can face criminal charges related to prescription medications, from fraudulently obtaining multiple prescriptions from several doctors for the same condition to prescribing doctors accepting bribes for specific prescriptions.

Any of these offenses can negatively impact your life in various ways if you are convicted. For example, while California’s drug crime penalties may be less severe than those of other states, you will still have a criminal record for a drug-related offense that could interfere with your ability to qualify for financial aid for college, engage in certain types of employment, or hold certain professional positions.

How to Defend Yourself Against Drug Offense Conviction

When you are charged with any crime in the United States, the prosecutors filing the case have the burden of proof. This means the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant does not necessarily need to prove they are innocent. However, you should not take this as meaning you can passively hope for the prosecution’s case to fall apart. Instead, you should be as proactive as possible in your defense, and this will require the help of an experienced Orange County drug crime attorney.

Your defense lawyer will assist you in determining the best legal defenses available to you in your drug offense case. When it comes to some possession offenses, the most commonly cited defenses against such charges include:

  • Lack of intent. If you are charged with possession of illegal drugs with intent to sell, you may need to prove that you had no intention of selling the drugs and that they were strictly intended for personal use. This can be difficult in some cases, but establishing this defense could mean a significant difference in the severity of your sentencing.
  • Lack of knowledge. If you are pulled over and the police notice drugs inside your vehicle that you did not know were there, your attorney can help you determine the best way to prove that you were not aware of the drugs and that they do not belong to you.
  • Substance abuse disorder. While this defense may not exactly help you prove your innocence, it can form a mitigating factor for sentencing. Many people struggle with substance abuse disorders and do not mean to break the law but feel they have no other choice due to the power of their addictions. Your attorney can help you determine whether your substance abuse disorder could potentially help you avoid jail time and other severe penalties your conviction might entail.
  • Duress or coercion. If someone else forced you to participate in an illegal drug operation against your will, your attorney might help you prove this by gathering evidence that your cooperation was forced.

Your Orange County drug crimes attorney will help you determine the best available defenses in your case. Success with your defense may hinge on establishing as many mitigating factors as possible and attacking the prosecution’s case. For example, your attorney may cite failures of the police to follow the rules of due process, chain of custody violations concerning the physical evidence of the case, and violations of your civil or constitutional rights at any point of your criminal case.

Potential Penalties for Drug Offenses in California

If you are convicted of any drug-related offense in California, your penalties can include fines, penalty assessments, and jail time. Depending on the nature of your actions and your criminal history, you could face more than the standard minimum sentence your offense usually entails.

Judges handling sentencing in criminal cases typically have discretionary power to adjust a defendant’s sentence as they see fit based on their interpretation of the facts of the case. As a result, judges may show leniency in light of mitigating factors while being more compelled to seek a harsher sentence in the face of aggravating factors. It’s also possible for a defendant’s sentence to be increased if they committed additional offenses alongside their drug-related offense.

Diversionary or alternative sentencing is common in drug cases, particularly drug possession cases. Many individuals charged with drug possession in California struggle with addiction, and their defense attorney may argue that rehabilitation, not incarceration, better serves the causes of justice and public safety. If you have struggled with a substance abuse disorder and were arrested due to your addiction, the judge handling sentencing may see the value in alternative sentencing.

Alternative sentencing in drug-related criminal cases often includes mandatory substance abuse treatment, psychological counseling, completion of drug and alcohol safety courses, and attending victim impact panels that confront defendants with the surviving family members of victims of drug crimes. If you are sentenced to any such diversionary or alternative penalties for your drug offense, you will likely face conditional probation. As the name implies, you can avoid further penalties by completing the conditions of probation. Your Orange County drug crimes lawyer will help you make the most robust possible case for alternative sentencing.

Put Experience To Work On Your Drug Offense Case

Brown & Stedman LLP has years of experience representing Orange County clients in complex drug offense cases. We know the stress and anxiety that can follow any criminal charge and the uncertainty a defendant is likely to face when they feel that the entire system is working against them. If you find yourself in this situation, you need defense counsel as quickly as possible. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Learn More About What We Can Do To Help

We invite you to call us at 949-459-3148 to schedule your free initial consultation. You can also reach our firm by contacting us online.

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