San Diego Drug Crime Attorney
Experienced and Skilled Criminal Defense for Drug-Related Offenses
In San Diego County, persons charged with drug related crimes are aggressively prosecuted. The San Diego District Attorney’s Office even has a specialized unit dedicated to prosecuting drug crimes. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side is essential to obtaining the best possible outcome for your case.
Whether you are charged with possession, transportation, manufacturing, sales, or being under the influence of drugs, the Law Office of Gregory Garrison will aggressively defend you in court.
As a former prosecutor who spent years prosecuting drug crimes as part of a specialized unit and as a former law enforcement officer, San Diego criminal defense attorney Gregory Garrison and his team of legal professionals are uniquely skilled to achieve the best possible outcome for your drug crime case.
The Law Office of Gregory Garrison will not only protect your Constitutional rights, but also perform an exhaustive analysis of your case, perform additional investigation of the facts, and, if necessary, take your case to trial to achieve the outcome you deserve.
In California, many drug crimes are considered to be serious crimes and many are prosecuted as felonies. The potential punishment for many serious drug crimes can also include a state prison commitment.
However, many drug crimes are also misdemeanors. Through effective negotiation, the Law Office of Gregory Garrison has successfully obtained a reduction in charges from more serious felony charges to less serious misdemeanor charges for many clients.
These drug crime victories have allowed the client to avoid any jail time, to avoid a felony conviction on their record, and to avoid the additional penalties that come with a felony conviction.
If you or a friend or family member is facing drug crime charges in San Diego County, contact the Law Office of Gregory Garrison today for a free consultation and to discuss your legal options. Contact our offices at 619-615-4216.
California Drug Laws
The drug crime laws in the State of California are some of the most complex controlled substance laws. Retaining a San Diego criminal defense attorney who is well versed in these laws is essential.
A person may be charged with a drug related crime for any of the following activities:
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance
- Possessing drug paraphernalia (such as a smoking pipe or needles)
- Possession of a controlled substance for personal use
- Possession of a controlled substance for sales
- Manufacturing or cultivating a controlled substance
- Trafficking controlled substances
- Sales of controlled substances
- Providing a controlled substance to another person to sell
- Transportation of controlled substances (specifically in a vehicle)
- Attempt to sell, manufacture, or transport controlled substances
What are controlled substances?
”Controlled substances” are defined under California Law in the California Health and Safety Code Sections. These substances include such illegal drugs as marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine (in both crack and powder form), cocaine base, LSD, peyote, PCP, ecstasy, and heroin.
When a person possesses or sells prescription drugs that are not lawfully possessed with a prescription, those substances are also characterized as controlled substances under California Law.
These prescription drugs include such substances as Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Ritalin, Codeine, Morphine, Adderall, Alprazolam (Xanex), Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam (Ativan), and Buprenorphine (Suboxone).
The San Diego District Attorney’s Office has wide discretion in filing drug crime charges. There are several factors that influence how they charge the crime. These factors include the type of substance, the amount of the substance, whether the substance was on a person or in a vehicle, whether the drugs were for personal use or sales, whether any minors were involved, and the criminal history of the person charged.
Many drug crimes carry additional penalties if the person charged has a prior conviction for drug related crimes. Having a San Diego drug crime defense attorney who is knowledgeable and skilled in these areas of drug crime law is vital to your case and a successful outcome.
Many California drug crimes can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The potential punishment for a misdemeanor drug crime verses a felony drug crime is far less severe.
The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has achieved a reduction from a felony drug crime to a misdemeanor drug crime for many of its clients and thereby saving them from the harsh penalties that a felony drug crime conviction brings.
The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has also achieved Deferred Entry of Judgement for many clients charged with drug related crimes allowing the client to eventually have the conviction expunged from their records.
Drug Possession for Personal Use
Under California Law, it is illegal to posses substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, opium, heroin, PCP, LSD, hashish, and marijuana in certain amounts. California Health and Safety Code Sections 11377, 11350, 11357(b), 11357(c), and 11359 make possession of these substances illegal.
Marijuana possession under California Law can be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction. California Proposition 47 which was passed by California voters in 2014 reduced the penalties for marijuana possession to misdemeanor and infraction only.
Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is charged as an infraction and possession of more than an ounce is charged as a misdemeanor. These charges and penalties can be more severe if the marijuana possession occurred on an school grounds.
California Law provides for many sentencing alternatives for first or second time drug crime offenders. These sentencing alternatives include Prop 36 and drug diversion.
These alternative sentencing programs allow the person charged to avoid any jail time, to serve a brief probationary period, attend a drug rehabilitation program, and upon successful completion of the program, to have the arrest and conviction wiped from their records.
Drug Possession for Sale
The San Diego District Attorney’s Office has wide discretion to charge an individual with possession of drugs for personal use or possession of drugs for sales. California law makes a distinction between drug possession for personal use and possession for sale.
California Health and Safety Code sections 11351, 11378 and 11351.5 make it a felony to possess drugs for the purpose of selling them.
The government does not have to prove that you actually sold any drugs to another person. The elements of the crime only require that you had the “intent to sell them.” Intent can be proven in two different ways.
Intent can be shown with direct evidence such as statements or recorded text messages. Intent can also be shown with circumstantial evidence such as the amount of drugs possessed and the manner in which the drugs were packaged.
Factors that law enforcement and District Attorneys use for determining drug sales:
- large quantities of drugs
- scales used to weigh drugs
- multiple cell phones
- text messages relating to drug sales
- type of packaging
- large amounts of cash
- denominations of cash
- sophisticated security systems
In San Diego County, many drug crime cases are filed as possession for sales when in fact the individual possessed the drugs for personal use. This is significant because the potential penalties for sales verses personal use are far more severe.
These penalties include prison commitments, felony convictions, convictions that are priorable, and the loss of alternative sentencing programs such as Prop 36 and drug diversion.
The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has consistently achieved reduced charges for clients initially charged with possession of drugs for sale.
Transportation & Furnishing of Drugs
It is illegal under California Law to transport (such as in a car), import (bringing drugs across state lines into California), or otherwise give away drugs to another person.
These drug crimes are typically charged as felonies and carry more severe penalties than drug possession charges. Transportation charges are normally charged under California Health and Safety Code Sections 11379 or 11352.
This crime is punishable by up to five years in state prison if charged under Section 11352 and up to four years in state prison if charged under Section 11379. There are many defenses available to someone charged with a drug transportation crime.
Only an experienced drug crime criminal defense attorney can identify these defenses and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has negotiated reduced charges for many clients initially charged with transportation. Contact our office today for a free initial case analysis at 619-615-4216.
Under California Law, a person who “manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis” any controlled substance is guilty of manufacturing. (Health and Safety Code section 11379.6.)
A person can also be convicted of this crime by offering to manufacture the controlled substance. This crime is punishable by up to seven years in state prison. The potential punishment can be increased by two years if the place of manufacturing was a structure where a child under the age of 16 was present.
Cultivating or Harvesting Marijuana is prosecuted under a separate Health and safety Code Section. Cultivation of marijuana is prosecuted as a felony under Health and Safety Code Section 11358 and is punishable by up to three years in state prison.
There are defenses available to marijuana cultivation provided for under the California Compassionate Use Act. The Compassionate Use Act allows qualified medical marijuana patients to both possess and cultivate marijuana under certain conditions.
Under the Influence of a Drug
Under California Health and Safety Code Section 11550, it is unlawful to use or be under the influence of certain controlled substances. Health and Safety Code Section 11550 is charged as a misdemeanor. There are additional potential penalties if the person charged has prior convictions for being under the influence.
Any subsequent offense can be charged as a felony under California Law. This crime can also be charged as a felony if the person was in possession of a loaded, operable firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance.
Penalties for misdemeanor Health and Safety Code Section 11550 include:
- minimum sentence of 90 days in county jail
- registration as a drug offender
- standard court costs and fines
- serve a probationary period
However, most persons charged with Health and Safety Code Section 11550 qualify for Proposition 36 or DEJ (Deferred Entry of Judgment).
The State of California and the County of San Diego offer many alternative sentencing programs for the offender who suffers from a substance abuse problem.
The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has assisted many clients avoid harsh penalties and instead be given alternative sentencing opportunities. Certain persons, depending on criminal records, are eligible for these alternative sentencing programs such as Proposition 36 and Drug Diversion (also known as Deferred Entry of Judgment).
Deferred Entry of Judgment (Drug Diversion)
For a Deferred Entry of Judgment, the defendant must enter a guilty plea, however, the person is not considered to have suffered a conviction. Judgment is suspended or “deferred” for a period of 18 months while the individual attends a drug program with drug education classes.
Once the individual successfully completes the program and does not suffer any further arrests, the charge is dismissed and expunged from the person’s records.
The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, also known as Proposition 36, is a California Law passed to offer rehabilitation instead of punishment to individuals charged with first or second time non-violent, simple drug possession offenses.
This program allows the individual to receive treatment for their substance abuse problem and to avoid jail time. When the individual receives Prop 36 as a sentencing alternative, they undergo drug abuse treatment and they are on formal probation during the period of treatment. The initial period of treatment is usually followed by a shorter period of aftercare.
Defenses to Drug Related Charges
There are many defenses available to drug related charges. One of the most common and the most successful is to challenge the legality of the initial arrest and the search conducted. Searches conducted by law enforcement are routinely performed in violation of the United States Constitution.
If it can be shown that the search or seizure was an illegal search or seizure, the Court will rule the evidence to be inadmissible and thus the case will normally be dismissed. The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has successfully challenged many detentions, searches, and seizures.
These successful challenges have lead to the suppression of the evidence and often to the dismissal of the client’s case. Contact our office today at 619-615-4216 for a free consultation.
San Diego Drug Crime Defense Lawyer
If you or a friend or a family member has been charged with a drug related crime in San Diego County, contact our office today to discuss your legal options.
The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has defended hundreds of clients in the San Diego area facing charges including simple drug possession, sales of drugs, manufacturing drugs, and transportation of drugs. Don’t let the criminal justice system scare you into taking a plea deal. We can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Call us today at 619-615-4216.