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If you have been arrested for a cocaine-related crime in California, there are several things that you should know. First and foremost, you should know that you have the right to hire an attorney to defend you in court. Even if you qualify for a public defender, you should consider retaining a private drug crime attorney who can devote an appropriate amount of time and attention to your case and who has the experience, skill, and knowledge to zealously defend you within the bounds of the law. San Bernardino and Riverside County cocaine crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings handles charges related to all types of felonies and misdemeanors. He helps people who have been charged with crimes like possession or trafficking minimize or avoid penalties so that they can get their lives back on track.
Controlled substances like cocaine are classified by the state and federal governments based on factors such as potential for abuse, safety, potential for addiction, and legitimate medical usage. As a Schedule 2 drug, cocaine has a relatively high potential for abuse and dependence and a very limited use in medicine. (It can be used as a local anesthetic in rare situations.) This makes cocaine illegal to possess, buy, sell, transport, or traffic except for health care professionals using the drug medicinally. Generally, possession of a small amount of cocaine for personal use is punished less harshly than trafficking a larger quantity for resale, but even simple possession of cocaine can be considered a felony under certain circumstances, particularly for people who have previously been convicted of certain felonies or a crime requiring registration as a sex offender.
For people without a previous record, a cocaine possession charge may be only a misdemeanor, but jail time of up to a year and a $1,000 fine are still possible. In some situations, a defendant may qualify for California’s drug diversion program under “Proposition 36,” as the law making this possible is commonly called. As a cocaine crime attorney in Riverside or San Bernardino can explain, diversion is not automatic and does not come without considerable strings attached. For example, the defendant may need to complete a drug treatment program at their own expense, undergo periodic drug testing, and comply with other terms of probation or parole.
As is the case with most drug offenses, the possible punishment increases in relative proportion to the amount of drugs found in the defendant’s possession. If the State of California is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant sold, furnished, administered, gifted, transported, or imported cocaine in a useable amount, a felony cocaine conviction could put the defendant behind bars for many years. The sentence depends on the amount of cocaine, the defendant’s previous record, whether the defendant is convicted of other drug offenses simultaneously, and other factors. However, a defendant may have a strong rebuttal to the charge, such as a lack of knowledge that the drug was present or that the substance in question was cocaine. There also may be a possibility of defeating the charges by negating an element of the State’s case or by trying to exclude vital evidence based on a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.
Being convicted of a drug crime, especially a felony offense, can have many long-term consequences. In addition to time in jail and fines, the defendant may lose certain civil liberties (like the right to legally possess a firearm) and will likely have difficulty finding work in certain types of jobs in the future. Housing issues may also arise. To protect your future, you should talk to an experienced San Bernardino and Riverside County cocaine crime attorney as soon as possible if you have been arrested or are under investigation. To set up an appointment, call The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We are also available if you need a heroin crime attorney or representation against other drug charges.