How Commonly Do People Plead Guilty To Drug Charges?

Whether a criminal defendant enters a plea of guilty to drug charges will depend on the individual case. Every case is different as every case has its strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, our clients bring various levels of degrees of the ability to testify and then different criminal histories and prior convictions which must all be taken into account. That being said, more than 90% of the cases filed in the criminal courts do resolve by plea.

What Are The Top Misconceptions That People Have About Being Arrested For A Drug Charge?

People have varying misconceptions once being arrested and charged for the drug offense. A lot of people believe that there is no hope and that they are going to jail. Even more extremely, it is very common for people to think that they are going to prison; even on simple misdemeanors that may be diversion eligible.

However, on the other hand, there are people who believe that they didn’t do anything wrong, have misconceptions about their level of criminal liability, or really believe that the prosecutor will never be able to prove the case against them.

Beyond those and more specifically, many clients have a misconception that they should talk or make a statement to the police. Making statements to the police is almost never helpful. You should always invoke your right to remain silent and request the presence of your attorney. Despite overtly advising this to clients, I have repeat clients that speak to the police over and over again on subsequent arrests.

Some defendants during the course of their statements or interrogations will make material misstatements (i.e. lie) which makes their situation inevitably worse.

More misconceptions: clients who think or hope that their co-defendant, who is also charged, will somehow write out something to the court that’s going to exonerate them, and allow them to walk out the door. Two fundamental problems are: 1) the co-defendant is represented by counsel who would never let their own clients incriminate themselves; and 2) there are inherent trustworthiness issues with such statements.

More misconceptions: clients are not familiar with how the law defines “possession”. Possession doesn’t necessarily mean that the substance has to be on you. Possession includes dominion, access, or control. For instance, the refrigerator in a kitchen can be possessed by everyone, and many different individuals can have dominion and control of it, as well as access to it. The same scenario can apply to the illegal possession of a substance, and people often realize that they can be held liable.

More misconceptions: another matter we hear a lot from clients relates to the mis-conceptualization of a “prescription” for marijuana. There are no prescriptions for marijuana. Marijuana is illegal under federal law so doctors cannot write prescriptions for it. However, marijuana has become legal, in some states including California, for medical purposes, and it is also legal recreationally in certain amounts. But there are no prescriptions. If you’re possessing marijuana for medical purposes, you need a doctor’s recommendation, not a prescription. A doctor’s recommendation needs to be fully examined, and it is a viable defense. Also, despite being able to legally possess marijuana, one cannot drive under the influence of it still.

Of course, it’s more than common to have some misconceptions about one’s own criminal case and many legal concepts. It’s the lawyer’s role to educate the client about what is prohibited by the law, the elements of each offense, legal definitions, and to make the best-educated guesses on how the prosecutor may attempt to prove up the case against their client.

At What Point Should I Hire Legal Counsel In A Drug Case?

Ideally, a defendant in a drug case should hire legal counsel before any police questioning. It is an individual’s Constitutional right to remain silent and to have an attorney present for any questioning. Other than that, an attorney should be involved as early as possible in the process. If charges may be filed or are filed, the defense attorney may very well need to have witnesses interviewed or surveillance footage obtained before either become inaccessible. It is always important to preserve potential exonerating evidence; even if that evidence is a blood test that shows a client was under the influence of drugs (or not under the influence, depending on your defense).

Also, if an attorney gets involved early enough, they can build a relationship of trust with the investigating officers and perhaps surrender the client on favorable terms witch involve less bail amount. The attorney may be able to walk the client through the surrender process and work out different charges beforehand in certain cases. In some particular cases, an attorney may even be able to negotiate a disposition, which occurs before surrendering the client.

For more information on Pleading Guilty To Drug Charges In CA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 484-0906 today.