San Diego Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer

Each year, millions of people in the United States are arrested on suspicion of drug crimes. Drug crimes, including drug possession, drug manufacturing, and drug trafficking, are taken very seriously by prosecutors and courts. If you are facing drug charges in California state or federal court, you should hire an experienced and aggressive private criminal defense attorney to represent you in court.

Mary Frances Prévost is an aggressive criminal defense attorney who represents clients facing drug charges in San Diego and the surrounding areas. She has won acquittals for clients charged with drug offenses in state and federal courts. To speak with her about your case, call (888) 909-7896 today.

Drug Crimes

It is important to understand that many of the crimes listed below are both state and federal criminal offenses. This means that you could be charged with the following crimes by either the State of California or the federal government. In some cases, you may be facing both state and federal charges simultaneously.

The most common drug crimes are:

  • Drug possession (sometimes called “possession of a controlled substance”),
  • Drug possession with intent to distribute (sometimes called “possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute”),
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia,
  • Drug trafficking,
  • Drug manufacturing,
  • Drug cultivation, and
  • Drug distribution (sometimes called “sale of a controlled substance”).

Drug Possession

Both California and federal laws make it a crime to willfully possess illegal controlled substances. When a substance is classified as “controlled,” it means that the use and distribution of the substance is governed by law. If you are found to be in possession of a controlled substance, you could be charged with possession of a controlled substance. Under both the state law of California and federal law, it is illegal to possess the following substances:

  • Marijuana,
  • Cocaine and crack cocaine,
  • Methamphetamine,
  • LSD,
  • Ecstasy or MDMA,
  • Heroin,
  • Psilocybin mushrooms,
  • Ketamine,
  • Peyote,
  • Amphetamines,
  • Steroids,
  • Opium,
  • Morphine, and
  • Prescription drugs without a valid prescription.

The laws applicable to drug possession differ at the state and federal level. However, prosecutors must generally prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict someone of possession of a controlled substance:

  • The defendant knew the drug in question was a controlled substance, and
  • The defendant knowingly had possession of, or control over, the drug.

The second element includes what is known as “constructive possession,” or access to an illegal drug. This means that drug possession charges can be filed against one or more individuals who share a living space or vehicle. A person does not need to be carrying or holding drugs on their person to be charged with possession of a controlled substance.

If you are found with a large amount of drugs, or items such as small plastic bags that suggest you are selling drugs, you may be charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Drug Trafficking

Drug distribution and drug trafficking laws penalize the sale, transportation, and illegal import of controlled substances. Drug trafficking is a very serious criminal offense at both the state and federal level. The punishment for drug trafficking depends on several factors, including the type and amount of drugs involved, the geographic area of distribution (e.g., whether state lines were crossed), and whether children were targeted. Sentences for drug trafficking generally range from 3-5 years to life in prison.

Drug trafficking is a felony in California and under federal law, and is a more serious crime than drug possession. If you are found in possession of drugs and police believe you intend to sell them, you can be charged with trafficking even if you were only planning to sell them to a few people. If you are found with a large quantity of drugs in your possession, you will likely be charged with drug distribution or drug trafficking.

It is important to understand that drug distribution and trafficking laws also apply to the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, such as pain killers like Vicodin and sleeping pills like Ambien. The illegal distribution of prescription drugs often involves pharmaceutical opiates such as Oxycontin and Fentanyl.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Under California law, it is illegal to possess certain drug paraphernalia. California Health and Safety Code § 11364 prohibits possession of “an opium pipe or any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance.”

In order to convict someone of this offense, the prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the defendant exercised control over, or had the right to control, drug paraphernalia, 
  • That the defendant knew of the paraphernalia’s presence, and
  • That the defendant knew it was drug paraphernalia.

The term “paraphernalia” refers to a variety of items that are used for illegally injecting, smoking, snorting, or otherwise consuming controlled substances. Examples of drug paraphernalia include (but are not limited to):

  • Hypodermic needles or syringes used to directly inject controlled substances into the body,
  • Pipes including glass pipes used for smoking crack cocaine and bongs used for smoking marijuana, and
  • Miniature cocaine spoons or devices used for storing and snorting cocaine.

Defenses to Drug Crimes

The information in this section is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Drug cases can be complicated and require an aggressive criminal defense attorney with a special skill set. If you have been charged with a drug crime, you may be able to assert one or more of the following defenses:

  • Fourth Amendment violations render key evidence inadmissible,
  • Fifth Amendment violations render key evidence inadmissible,
  • The drugs did not belong to you,
  • Crime lab analysis reveals that the substance in your possession was not illegal,
  • The drugs were planted on you,
  • Entrapment, or
  • You had a valid prescription for the drugs found in your possession at the time of your arrest.

San Diego Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer

Mary Frances Prévost is dedicated to zealous representation of her clients. She represents defendants facing all types of drug charges in both California state court and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. To speak with her about your case, call (888) 909-7896. She offers all potential clients a free and confidential consultation.

Do not leave your future to chance. Call the Law Offices of Mary Frances Prévost today.