California, like every state, has its own drug laws. If you wind up in a situation where you are facing charges, you will quickly get an idea of how complex the criminal justice system can be. Sometimes, complications set in long before the filing of any charges. For instance, you might be at a friend’s house when law enforcement agents show up and start looking around, with some of them in uniforms and others in plain clothing. Such scenes often look like they’re straight out of Hollywood films.
If it’s affecting your own life, however, it’s obviously not a movie, and the outcome of the situation may depend on how well informed you are and what decisions you make regarding your defense if you’re facing charges for a crime. Whether those charges are filed at a state or federal level (or both) is also significant.
Aren’t all drug charges the same?
While some think all drug charges are basically the same, so the particulars don’t really matter, this is definitely not the case. In fact, penalties vary greatly depending on the level at which charges have been filed against you. Some of the most common types of drugs charges are as follows:
- Possession: Just as the term implies, this type of charge accuses someone of being in possession of illegal drugs. Whether law enforcement officers claim they found an illegal drug on your person, in your vehicle, house or elsewhere, may have significant bearing on your situation.
- Possession with intent to distribute: This is a more serious offense than merely possessing an illicit drug. If an officer claims there is evidence to suggest you intended on selling the drug, your situation has gotten worse.
- Manufacturing with intent to distribute: This occurs when you face accusations of conducting lab work to actually make and sell illegal drugs.
- Trafficking prescription drugs: It’s against the law to take a prescription drug meant for someone else, as well as to sell prescription medication to others on the street.
When something is officially labeled as a controlled substance, the government is involved. Any situation involving controlled substances could result in the filing of federal charges, and these charges typically carry more severe penalties under conviction than state level charges. Sometimes, the filing of charges takes place at both levels, then the higher court makes a decision that federal charges will take precedence over any charges filed in a lower court.
It’s obviously a serious matter, either way. Depending on your situation, you may be required to stay in jail while awaiting a hearing. Facing charges for a drug crime can have long-lasting negative effects on your personal life, and may even cause you to lose your job. Since you legally have a presumption of innocence unless proved otherwise in court, you have every opportunity to build as strong a defense as possible before proceedings begin.
Others in California have found it very helpful to enlist the assistance of an experienced defense attorney who has handled cases at both state and federal levels of law.