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How to Get Drug Possession Charges Dropped in California

How to get drug possession charges dropped in California

A conviction for drug possession charges can have devastating lifelong consequences, including potential complications in finding employment, housing, and financial aid for post-secondary education. Those who are facing such charges should carefully explore their legal options. In some cases, you may be able to get drug possession charges dismissed.

Each case involves unique circumstances, which will determine the optimal legal strategy for handling the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney like Amy Chapman can analyze your case and determine whether your charges could be dropped or dismissed. Contact the Law Office of Amy Chapman today to learn more about how to get drug possession charges dropped in California.

When Can Drug Charges Be Dropped in California?

An experienced California criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the circumstances of your case and determine if there are grounds to have your drug charges dropped. However, this is not always possible. To get your drug charges dropped, you and your lawyer must prove that one or more of the following circumstances applies to your case.

Violations of Constitutional Rights

Anyone detained on suspicion of a crime in the United States is guaranteed constitutional rights. If the arresting officer violated your rights, the charges against you could be thrown out.

Some common examples of constitutional rights violations during drug possession arrests include:

  • The arresting officer did not read the defendant their Miranda rights
  • The defendant was not informed that anything you say may be used against you in court
  • The police did not allow the defendant to have an attorney present during questioning
  • The defendant was questioned without their attorney after hiring one

Lack of Probable Cause

Probable cause is the cornerstone of any criminal case. Without it, any evidence gathered by police could be thrown out of court. The arresting officer must demonstrate that they had sufficient reason to believe you had committed a crime before stopping you, searching you, or arresting you. Probable cause is an abstract concept, which means that the court will evaluate the specific circumstances of the arrest to determine if there was enough probable cause.

In some cases, the arresting officer may genuinely believe that they had probable cause to make the arrest, but the court may disagree. Experienced Santa Rosa drug charge defense lawyer Amy Chapman can investigate the details of your arrest to determine if your drug possession charges could be dropped due to lack of probable cause.

Proof of Legal Possession

If you were arrested for possession of prescription drugs because you did not have proof of a prescription, providing that proof can get the charges dropped. Another example might be that you picked up a prescription for a family member or friend and were arrested when transporting it to them. In either case, proving that the drugs were prescribed and that you were legally permitted to possess them can get the charges dropped.

Illegal Searches and Stops

A defense attorney can examine your case to determine if the evidence against you was obtained during an illegal search and/or stop by the police. For example, if the arresting officer stopped you based on racial profiling instead of probable cause, the stop could be challenged and the charges against you could be thrown out by a judge.

What Other Legal Options Are Available?

Even if you are unable to get your drug possession charges dropped, you may have other options that can help reduce your penalties. 

Drug Diversion Program

The California Drug Diversion Program (also known as pretrial diversion) allows individuals charged with low-level drug crimes to choose drug abuse treatment and education as an alternative to jail time. Most drug possession charges are eligible for this program. Once you complete the program, your charges are dismissed and you will not have a criminal record.

You must meet the following conditions to qualify for pretrial diversion in California:

  • The charges are for possession for personal use.
  • You have not been convicted of any other controlled substance offenses that are ineligible for pretrial diversion within the past 5 years.
  • The charges do not involve violence or threats of violence.

Plea Agreements

To be accepted into a drug diversion program, you will be asked to plead guilty to the charges against you. In addition, a plea agreement can be used to get drug charges reduced. For example, in some cases, the district attorney may be willing to reduce a felony drug charge to a misdemeanor in exchange for a guilty plea.

Can Drug Convictions Be Expunged in California?

Even if you are convicted of a drug crime, this conviction does not need to follow you for the rest of your life. In California, both misdemeanor and felony drug possession charges may be expunged under the Clean Your Record program, as long as you meet the following conditions:

  • You have completed probation and all other court-ordered requirements for the offense
  • You were not sentenced to state prison for the conviction, or
    • You did serve time in state prison, but would have been sentenced to county jail if the crime had been committed after the implementation of Proposition 47

In addition, if you were convicted of a marijuana offense before recreational marijuana was legalized in California, the California Department of Justice will review and seal your conviction.

Learn More From Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Lawyer Amy Chapman

When facing drug charges, it is important to explore all of your legal options. While you are entitled to act in your own defense, it is usually wise to seek legal guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can evaluate each detail of your case for potential grounds for dropped charges and guide you through the justice system if your charges are ineligible to be dropped.

At the Law Firm of Amy Chapman, our experienced Santa Rose drug possession lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients fight the charges they face. Our representation begins from the time of the arrest and may continue throughout the justice process and into appeals, if necessary. For more information about how to get drug possession charges dropped or any other criminal law matter, contact us today for a free consultation.

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Law Office of Amy Chapman

Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Santa Rosa, CA 95404

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