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  • Santa Rosa, CA 95404

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How Long Do Drug Cases Typically Last?


The amount of time a drug case lasts varies a lot. It can vary on the complexity of the case, whether one person is charged or multiple people are charged. It can depend on whether there are multiple issues that need to be litigated on the case, such as motions to suppress or motions to dismiss, motions to unseal warrants, or any type of motion work or further litigation is going to extend the length of time that the case is in court.

It’s impossible to say the typical timeframe of any drug case because each one is different and can last from very quickly to years in terms of some of the more complicated multi-defendant drug cases.

Are the Courts Lenient Toward First Time Drug Offenders?

If you’re a first time offender on a simple possession case, you will be eligible for diversion, meaning you can complete an outpatient treatment program and have the case removed from your record if it’s a first time simple possession case.

If you’re first time offender and there are no other outrageous circumstances, in all likelihood you’ll be granted a chance on probation to avoid a lengthier period of incarceration and will be subject to the monitoring and the probation department or a chance at residential treatment in order to avoid further jail or incarceration in county or state prison.

However, just because it’s your first offense or you have a family or you have a job, the DA and the courts will not outright dismiss your case. Even if you’re a true first time offender, you will have to earn your dismissal; there is no free path for first time offense.

Is it Possible to Get a Drug Case Dismissed?

Drug cases can get dismissed. The most common thing we see is dismissal because of illegally obtained evidence. If the police violated your 4th amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and obtain evidence illegally, your attorney can file a motion to suppress in the court and ask that any evidence obtained as a result of that illegal search get thrown out. If the evidence of that search is thrown out and the DA is left with no other evidence to prosecute you, they will be forced to dismiss your case.

Even if there are no illegal search issues, if the DA cannot establish that you truly possess the drugs, meaning you knew that the drugs are there or knew the nature of the drugs, they won’t be able to proceed with your case and they’ll either dismiss it before the trial or you may have a very good case of winning the jury trial.

For example, if you’re driving a car that belongs to somebody else and there is drugs hidden somewhere in the car and you didn’t know that they were and nobody can prove that you knew those drugs were there, that is the case that you could eventually win because the prosecution has to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they knew about the presence of the drugs and the fact that they were in fact drugs.

Can Drug Charges Be Somehow Removed from a Person’s Record?

Yes. If you are a first time offender on a simple drug possession, you could be eligible for diversion, which would take the case off your record. Even if you’re not otherwise eligible for diversion on a simple drug possession case with no other criminal cases attached to it, you may be eligible for sentencing under Penal Code Section 1210, which is sentencing to outpatient treatment rather than jail, and upon completion of the treatment you can petition the court to have the case dismissed.

Even if you’re not eligible for any of those programs, if you’re placed on probation and not sentenced to state prison upon successful completion of your probation, if you have no violations and you’ve picked up no new cases, you can then come back before the court and request an expungement which is a dismissal of the case to clear it off your record after you’ve successfully completed probation.

What is the Most Difficult Aspect for a Lawyer to Deal With in a Drug Case?

Sometimes, the most difficult aspect of drug cases for lawyers to deal with is the fact that their client comes to them with a drug addiction. Although they may not be a criminal normally, addiction has resulted in them coming before the criminal justice system. Even if that attorney can get the client a good and reasonable disposition, if that client can’t remain clean and sober, they’re not going to be successful on any type of probation or even if they’re not on probation, they can relapse and come back before the court on a second or a third case or a more serious case.

Oftentimes the most difficult part is helping the client get their addiction in check, get concerned about their health to seek the treatment that they need in order to clean up their lives and not come back before the criminal justice system. Quit the drugs and make it better for themselves, their families and their court cases in the future.

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For more information on Timeframe of Completion for Drug Cases, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (707) 636-3207 today or filling out the contact form.


Law Office of Amy Chapman Review

Law Office of Amy Chapman

Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Lawyer

703 2nd Street

Suite 407

Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Phone: (707) 636-3207

Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm

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