Peter Blair | October 27, 2022 | Drug Crimes
Possessing any amount of controlled substances or illegal drugs is against the law. Even though California legalized recreational marijuana, it is against the law for a person 21 years old or older to possess more than eight grams of concentrated cannabis or approximately one ounce of dried marijuana.
Therefore, if law enforcement officers stop you and discover illegal drugs or more than the legal amount of marijuana, you will likely be arrested for drug possession in San Diego. Knowing what to expect if you are arrested for drug possession can help you remain calm. Remaining claim means you can think clearly to take steps to protect your legal rights.
What Should You Do When Arrested for Drug Possession in San Diego?
Remain calm and do not resist arrest. You are being arrested for an alleged drug crime. However, the arrest is not a guilty verdict.
Resisting arrest could escalate the situation into a dangerous encounter with police officers. It also leads to additional criminal charges. Instead, try to keep your emotions in check while the officers place you in handcuffs and the police car.
You should respectfully request the opportunity to call your lawyer. If you have an attorney, call your lawyer as soon as you are allowed to make a phone call. If not, call a family member or friend who can search for a San Diego criminal defense lawyer.
At the arraignment, you can request a lawyer to be appointed to your case if you cannot afford to hire an attorney. You should also request bail. If you have not spoken to an attorney, plead not guilty at the arraignment.
What Should You Avoid Doing if You Are Arrested for Drug Possession?
Resist the urge to talk while you are transported to the police station and booked. You are not required to answer questions or talk to the police after providing the police officers with your identifying information.
Police officers often question individuals before they arrest them to gain information. You can inform the officers that you invoke your right to remain silent, even if the officers have not read the Miranda rights.
Talking to police officers is not in your best interest. Anything you say can be used against you in court to prove your guilt. Remember, conversations with cell mates are not privileged, and phone calls and visits are recorded.
Anything you write or sign can also be used as evidence against you to prove drug possession charges. Therefore, do not agree to provide a written statement or sign documents without a lawyer present.
Drug Possession Charges and Penalties
Many drug possession charges are misdemeanor offenses. However, that does not mean you should not take drug possession charges seriously. The maximum punishment for a misdemeanor conviction is one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Examples of drugs that can result in a drug possession charge include both illegal drugs and prescription medications, such as:
In addition to drug possession charges, the prosecutor could also charge you with additional crimes. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest for drug possession, you could also be charged with the following:
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance
- Sale and transportation of controlled substances
- Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID)
- Drug possession with intent to sell
Some drug possession charges and related drug crimes could result in felony offenses. In those cases, you could serve three or more years in state prison.
Developing a Defense Strategy to Drug Possession Charges in San Diego
An experienced San Diego drug crimes attorney investigates the allegations against you. The lawyer searches for evidence that can support various defenses and analyzes the state’s evidence to determine weaknesses in its case.
Potential defenses to drug possession charges include:
- The police officers engaged in an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
- You have a lawful prescription from a medical professional for the controlled substance
- You were not in actual or constructive possession of the drug
The state has the burden of proving the legal elements of a drug possession charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Even though the state has the burden of proving your case, it does not mean you should not hire a San Diego criminal defense attorney and fight the charges. Innocent people can go to jail, so it is not wise to rely on being innocent to keep you out of jail on drug possession charges.