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Defending against drug charges in California

If you have been charged with drug possession or distribution, you are potentially looking at years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines and a permanent criminal record. As a result, you may have a difficult time finding employment or re-entering the community once your sentence has been served.

If you are facing charges for a drug crime, you should consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. Your attorney may choose one of the following defense strategies.

  • Illegal search and seizure: Under the Fourth Amendment, officers generally must have a warrant to search your home or other place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, if they do not have a warrant, they can search your property if they have probable cause, or reason to believe your property contains evidence of a crime based on the totality of the circumstances. If an officer illegally searches your property, any evidence they find against you will be inadmissible in court.
  • Self-incrimination: Under the Fifth Amendment, you do not have to answer any questions asked by an officer while in police custody beyond the basics (e.g., your name). An officer is required to read you your Miranda rights before questioning you in custody. If an officer fails to read you your rights and proceeds to question you while in custody, your answers may not be used against you in court.
  • Chain of custody broken: Any evidence seized from a crime scene generally must be secured in an evidence locker or room. Improper handling of the evidence by officers or failure to keep a record of who was handling the evidence could taint the evidence.
  • Substance is not illegal: Crime lab testing may reveal that the substance in your possession was not in fact illegal. Your attorney may also argue that testing was improper or that the analysis report contained errors.
  • Drugs do not belong to you: Your attorney can show that there is reasonable doubt as to whether the drugs belonged to you or whether you were even aware of the drugs.

These are just a few examples of possible strategies a defense attorney may use in a drug case. Your attorney will tailor a strategy to fit the specific facts of your case.

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