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Weight Enhancements for Drug Offenses
Being arrested on a drug charge can be the beginning of a long and protracted legal battle, potentially ending with a sentence of incarceration in state prison for many years if the defendant is convicted of a more serious drug offense, such as possession with intent to sell marijuana, heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, or another controlled substance. While the drug in question is the same in a simple possession case and a possession with intent to sell case, the potential punishment, including the lifelong negative consequences that come with a felony conviction, can be very different. If you have been arrested on for a meth crime, heroin crime, cocaine crime, or other drug offense, experienced San Bernardino and Riverside drug crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings is here to help you fight for your rights and your future.
While the primary factor in law enforcement authorities’ decision to charge a defendant with possession with intent to resell or other drug crimes is the amount of drugs found incident to the defendant’s arrest, weight enhancements for drug offenses are not the only consideration. The State’s attorney will likely also consider where the drugs were found, how they were packaged, whether multiple bags or bindles were located, whether the defendant possessed a scale, the presence of a lot of cash (especially of multiple denominations so as to easily make change for a customer), etc. Another relevant factor can be whether there were frequent visitors to the defendant’s residence if that’s where the drugs were located. In other words, do the circumstances make it appear that the defendant was running a business manufacturing or dealing drugs, or does it appear more as though he or she was purchasing drugs, albeit in a relatively large amount, only for personal use?
Police are often highly motivated to arrest a defendant in a drug case on the most serious charges possible. It makes for good press, and, if there are is a conviction, it potentially gets another dealer off the streets. However, when police are too aggressive in these types of cases, mistakes are often made. Innocent people get charged with crimes they did not commit. Individuals who only bought drugs for their own personal consumption, and who might otherwise qualify for diversion programs designed to help those with addiction issues get clean, end up being charged with an offense that could land them in prison for many years.
When police overstep their bounds by an illegal search of a defendant’s person, vehicle, or home, a skilled criminal defense attorney can file a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence. Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, those who are charged with criminal activity are guaranteed freedom from illegal searches and seizures. If a judge finds that police lacked probable cause or that a search warrant was based on stale evidence, the evidence illegally seized by police may be excluded at trial. Without the drugs, the State’s case may quickly fall apart. In addition to a legal defense such as an illegal search or seizure, the defendant may also have a factual defense. Can the State prove that the illegal substance in question was within the defendant’s dominion and control? This may be difficult if the defendant’s spouse, children, roommates, or others were frequently in and out of the residence or vehicle where the drugs were found.
An assertive defense to charges brought pursuant to weight enhancements for drug offenses under California law can sometimes result in dismissal of charges, a reduction in charges, or possible diversion, such as under Proposition 36 or Penal Code § 1000. There may also be mitigation issues that favor a lesser sentence in a particular case. If you have been charged with a drug offense in San Bernardino or Riverside, the attorney Gregory H. Comings may be able to help. Call us at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online to set up an appointment to discuss your case.