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Dismissal of Drug Possession Charge

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Drug Possession Charges in California

The United States criminal justice system takes drug crimes very seriously. Individuals charged with drug offenses can face harsh penalties, including imprisonment, hefty fines, and long-lasting social stigma.

If you are facing drug charges, it may be helpful to enlist the support and guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you traverse the legal system and protect your rights.

The good news is that whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony drug possession charges, Law Offices of Christopher Chaney can provide the personalized services and guidance you need to protect your legal rights and defend against the charges leveled against you.

When Can a Drug Charge Be Dropped in California?

Drug charges in California can be dropped if there are specific circumstances in the case that provide grounds for dismissal. These circumstances may include the following:

Lack of Probable Cause

The arresting officer has to demonstrate that they had sufficient reason to believe the defendant had committed a crime before stopping, searching, or arresting them. If there was insufficient probable cause for the arrest, the drug charges and any evidence gathered by the police could be deemed inadmissible.

Proof of Legal Possession

Proof of legal possession is a valid defense to get the drug charges dropped. For example, the charges may be dropped if the defendant was arrested for possessing drugs but can provide proof of a valid prescription. Similarly, the charges will be dropped if the defendant transported prescription drugs for someone with a valid prescription.

Violation of Constitutional Rights

Constitutional rights violations refer to situations where an individual’s rights, as enshrined in the US Constitution, have been infringed upon. These rights include the right to due process, the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and protection against unlawful searches and seizures.

Violation of Miranda Rights

In the context of drug charges, a violation of constitutional rights can occur during an arrest or search. For example, if the arresting officer did not read the defendant’s Miranda rights, which inform them of their right to remain silent and legal counsel. In that case, any statements made to the police officer during questioning will not be admissible in court.

Unreasonable Searches & Seizures and Motion to Suppress Evidence

If law enforcement violated the defendant’s constitutional rights during the search, seizure, or arrest, their defense lawyer may file a motion for suppression of evidence.

If the motion is granted, the evidence gathered during the search or seizure will not be admissible in court and can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.

This option is available if the police violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures or violated their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Our experienced criminal defense attorney can review the case details, determine whether constitutional violations occurred, and work to have the charges dismissed or reduced.

Can Incuracies in Drug Quantity or Type Lead to Dropped Charges in California?

In California, inaccuracies in drug quantity or type can indeed lead to dropped charges. If the evidence seized does not match the description in the drug possession charge, it may be deemed insufficient evidence, potentially resulting in dropped charges.

For instance, if law enforcement officers inaccurately report the type of illegal substance or its quantity, it undermines the credibility of the case, providing grounds for dismissal.

Defense attorneys often scrutinize such inaccuracies to argue that the drugs belonged to someone else or challenge the legality of the search, asserting that it was an unlawful search.

How Does California Law Differentiate Between Possession for Personal Use and Possession for Sale?

California law distinguishes between possession for personal use and possession for sale based on several factors. The quantity of drugs found, the presence of drug paraphernalia, large sums of money, and evidence of communications related to drug trafficking can all indicate intent to sell.

Possession for personal use typically involves smaller quantities and may lack additional evidence of sales activity. The differentiation is crucial as it impacts the severity of the charges and potential penalties.

Possession for sale is a more serious offense and can result in felony charges, whereas possession for personal use might be eligible for drug diversion programs, leading to a more lenient plea agreement.

In both scenarios, individuals facing charges should consult with a knowledgeable attorney who understands drug crime laws and can negotiate with the district attorney for plea bargain agreements, ensuring the best possible outcome.

Whether challenging the actual or constructive possession, questioning the legality of the arrest, or negotiating for reduced charges, an attorney’s expertise is invaluable in navigating the complexities of California’s drug laws and advocating for the dismissal or reduction of criminal charges.

When facing drug charges, it’s essential to understand the various legal options available to you, including:

Plea Bargaining

This is a negotiation process between the criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor. The goal is to reach an agreement on a reduced sentence or charges. The defendant may plead guilty to a lesser offense or accept a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. It’s a common strategy used in drug cases, as it can often result in a more favorable outcome for the defendant.

Pretrial Diversion Programs

In some cases, individuals facing drug possession charges may be eligible for a drug diversion program. These programs are designed to allow individuals to receive treatment for drug addiction instead of being incarcerated.

These programs divert individuals charged with drug crimes from the traditional criminal justice system and into rehabilitation or community service programs. These programs are usually offered to first-time offenders or individuals charged with low-level drug crimes. Completing such a program can lead to the charges being dropped or reduced, preventing the defendant from having a criminal record.


The defendant can choose to go to trial and have a judge or jury decide their guilt or innocence. The prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defendants who are found not guilty by a magistrate, jury, or judge are ‘acquitted,’ and the case against them will be dismissed. However, going to trial is risky, as the defendant could face severe penalties and jail time if found guilty.

However, if the defendant has a strong enough defense, going to trial may be a good option.

What Can You Lose if You Are Convicted of Drug Possession in California?

If convicted of drug possession in California, you can lose several things, including your freedom, reputation, and future opportunities. The penalties for drug possession can differ depending on the type of drug, actual possession, the amount involved, and the circumstances surrounding the offense.

Felony drug charges, such as those surrounding illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, can result in a lengthy prison sentence, significant fines, and a permanent criminal record.

Other serious consequences include difficulties finding employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

What Happens to First-Time Drug Offenders in California?

The penalties for drug crimes, especially those involving controlled substances, can be severe, including lengthy prison sentences and significant fines.

However, California law allows certain first-time drug offenders to receive alternative sentencing options such as drug treatment programs, probation, and community service instead of a prison sentence. Alternative sentencing options are designed to allow first-time offenders to avoid a felony drug charge and a permanent criminal record.

For example, individuals charged with drug possession may be eligible for drug diversion programs. These programs provide individuals with drug addiction treatment instead of a criminal conviction. The drug possession charge can be dismissed upon successful completion of the program.

Can Drug Convictions Be Expunged in California?

Yes, some drug convictions can be expunged in California under certain circumstances. An expungement is a legal process that allows individuals to have their criminal records cleared or modified. When a conviction is expunged, it is not erased from the record, but rather the conviction for a drug crime is set aside, and the case is dismissed.

In California, individuals convicted of certain drug offenses may be eligible for expungement. Eligibility depends on several factors, including the specific offense, the sentence received, and the time elapsed since the conviction. To be eligible for expungement, certain conditions must be met, including:

  • You must have completed probation or served your sentence.
  • You must not currently be charged with a criminal offense.
  • You must not have been sentenced to state prison for the offense.

If these conditions are met, you can file a petition for expungement with the court. An expungement can provide several benefits, including improved job prospects and the ability to obtain professional licenses and pass background checks.

However, it is critical to note that not all convictions are eligible for expungement, and the benefits may be limited.

If you are facing charges related to a controlled substance in California, it is vital to have access to experienced drug lawyers who can protect your legal rights and defend against the charges.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you navigate the legal system and fight for a favorable outcome in your case.

We understand the impact of drug charges on your life and are committed to providing you with aggressive and effective legal representation. We tirelessly defend your rights and help you explore all legal options available.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Our experienced criminal attorneys are ready to help you fight for your future.

Schedule Your Consultation

Regardless of your circumstance, you are not alone in your fight. We are ready to stand by your side and fight for your rights, freedom, and reputation. Contact us today to schedule a free remote or in-person consultation, and let us assist you in finding a solution to your problem.