Drug crimes can take many forms. From possessing, to selling, to trafficking controlled substances, there are many ways that a person can be pulled over and charged. Penalties get worse as quantities of a controlled substance increase and as more and more offenses are added to a criminal record. These penalties can include fines, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, and incarceration adding up to years or even decades of life. If you’ve been pulled over and charged with a drug crime, it is important to understand the next steps to take to avoid the worst of these penalties.
Factors That Influence Penalties
Consequences of a possible conviction vary according to a few factors, including:
- The type of controlled substance
- The amount of a controlled substance
- The purpose for which you had possession of the controlled substance
- The location where you were stopped (for example, distributing drugs on school grounds often brings harsher penalties)
- Your criminal record
4 Things To Do If You’ve Been Charged with a Drug Crime
- Get legal help
Drug crimes are sensitive matters and defendants can be hugely helped through professional council. An experienced criminal defense attorney will fight to reduce possible penalties and strive to get your case dismissed. Such lawyers can help to uncover:
What are you being charged for?
Is the evidence brought against you valid?
Were you lawfully stopped?
Did the police conduct a proper search?
What is the best way to respond to further investigation?
With help from a criminal defense attorney, you can get answers to these questions and receive the strongest possible defense for your case.
- Don’t consent to any warrantless searches
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, it’s important that you cooperate with the police. But there’s no reason to automatically give consent to further searches of your vehicle, home, or belongings. If an officer asks to search any of these areas—and doesn’t have a warrant—you don’t have to give your consent to such a search. Ask your lawyer how best to respond in these situations.
- If you were pulled over, submit to DUI testing
It’s a good idea to submit to DUI testing if you were driving when you were charged with a drug crime. Most of the time, you’re only hurt by not agreeing to a mandatory DUI test. Under California’s “implied consent” law, if a person who was lawfully arrested for a DUI and refuses chemical testing, he or she can face at least 96 hours incarceration and fines from $390 to $1,000 for a first-time DUI.
- Record the facts
As soon as possible, record as many details as you can about the incident in question. This information will help a criminal defense attorney defend your case and could be used to prove that:
You were unlawfully searched
There was improper police conduct
The substance in your possession wasn’t actually a controlled substance
You unknowingly were in possession of a drug
How a San Diego Drug Defense Lawyer from McElfresh Law Can Help You
At McElfresh Law, we’re committed to defending clients who have been charged with drug crimes. If you or a loved one has been charged and you have questions about what to do next, contact San Diego criminal defense attorney Jessica McElfresh today at (858) 756-7107 for a free consultation.