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Van Nuys Drug Charges Lawyer

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California Drug Possession Laws

In California, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance. A wide range of illegal drugs and even some prescription medications are classified as controlled substances. You can face harsh penalties depending on the nature of the drug charge.

Several other charges exist related to drug possession. Other commonly charged crimes include possession with the intent to sell, drug trafficking, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you defend against drug charges. If you are facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. 

What Is Possession?

Under California law, possession of a controlled substance occurs when:

  1. You unlawfully possessed the drug,
  2. You were aware of its presence,
  3. You were aware it is a controlled substance under the law, and
  4. There was a usable amount of the controlled substance.

The prosecutor will need to prove your intent to possess the controlled substance and that the drug met the criteria for a controlled substance.

Types of Drug Possession Charges

Drug possession charges can be broken down into three main categories – actual possession, constructive possession, and joint possession.

  • Actual possession. Actual possession is when the controlled substance is under the physical control of the person being charged, for instance, if it was in the person’s pocket.
  • Constructive possession. Constructive possession is when the controlled substance is somewhere that is accessible to the accused, such as their car, residence, or gym locker. 
  • Joint possession. Joint possession is when the controlled substance is in a shared space, and more than one party has constructive possession of the drug.

Penalties and Consequences of Drug Possession

Punishment for a drug possession charge will depend on the circumstances. In California, the type of controlled substance is defined by schedules. These schedules also define potential penalties for possession. Schedule I drugs carry the most severe penalty, and Schedule V drugs the least severe.

  • Schedule I includes drugs like opiates, heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, and mescaline.
  • Schedule II includes drugs like Vicodin, morphine, and other narcotics.
  • Schedule III includes drugs like ketamine, pentobarbital, and anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV includes drugs like valium, diazepam, and zolpidem.
  • Schedule V includes lesser-controlled prescription drugs like codeine.

Consequences of drug charges are calculated based on several factors, including the nature of the drug-related offense, the amount and type of illegal substances involved, and the defendant’s past criminal record.

Common Consequences

Typical drug possession penalties include:

  • Fines. Monetary penalties for drug offenses can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the charge.
  • Imprisonment. Some drug-related offenses may result in imprisonment, lasting anywhere from a few months to decades in severe cases.
  • Probation. Probation could mean regular reporting to a probation officer, random drug tests, and restrictions on certain activities or places.
  • Rehabilitation. Some court rulings may order the offender to participate in rehabilitation or drug education programs instead of, or in addition to, other penalties.
  • Community service. Some offenders may receive community service orders mandating the completion of a certain number of unpaid work hours.
  • Criminal record. A drug offense conviction typically results in a permanent criminal record, significantly impacting a person’s future opportunities in employment, housing, and even education.

These consequences can be life-altering, drastically affecting your personal and professional life. Addressing these charges promptly and effectively can be critical to a positive outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can craft a defense strategy to help minimize the adverse outcomes associated with drug charges.

Defenses in Drug Possession Cases

Several defenses exist to combat drug possession charges. However, each case is unique, and the appropriate defense will depend on the facts of your case. Our attorneys can help you understand the facts, the law, and what defenses may be available.

Four common defenses to drug possession charges include:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police did not follow the correct legal procedures to obtain evidence, the evidence could be dismissed. Possibly leading to the dismissal of the charges. 
  • Unwitting Possession: In some cases, you may not have been aware that the drugs were in your possession. This might be the case if you recently borrowed a car or moved into a new home. Proving a lack of knowledge or intent can be a solid defense.
  • Lack of Possession: Unlike unwitting possession, this is not about lack of knowledge but instead argues that the drugs were not yours. 
  • Valid Prescription: If you had a legitimate medical prescription for the drugs in question, it can serve as a robust defense against charges.

Role of a Van Nuys Drug Possession Lawyer

Having a seasoned legal professional by your side in these situations can make a world of difference. They understand the dynamics of the local courts, are familiar with the strategies of local prosecutors, and have in-depth knowledge of drug laws.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we provide our clients fighting drug possession charges with the following services:

  • Legal analysis: Our lawyers will carefully analyze your case, explain potential outcomes, and advise you on the best course of action. 
  • Defense strategy: Our criminal defense attorneys will use their decades of experience to build an innovative and robust strategy to defend against the charges.
  • Negotiations: If your case has the potential for negotiation of a plea deal, we will negotiate with the prosecution. Plea deals can result in reduced charges and penalties.
  • Trial representation: Should your case eventually go to trial, we will represent your interests in court.

Contact the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney Today

Have you been charged with possession? At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we understand the serious implications a drug possession conviction can have on your future. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys are here to help.

We provide innovative legal solutions to fight for your freedom. We will work with you to understand your goals and devise a strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.

Contact us 24/7 at (818) 330-5198 or here to schedule a free consultation. We speak Russian, Spanish, and English. 

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.