Santa Barbara Cocaine Possession Defense Lawyer
Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are known by many street names, such as “coke,” “blow,” “rock,” “white,” and “powder,” depending on which drug is involved. Both are controlled substances that are illegal to use, purchase, or possess under California and federal law. It is also illegal to use or possess any equipment or paraphernalia that is used to smoke crack cocaine, snort powder cocaine, or otherwise store, distribute, weigh, package, or produce cocaine for sale or personal use.
If you or one of your family members was arrested and charged with cocaine possession in Santa Barbara County, extremely serious criminal penalties can result. Skilled legal representation is critical. Equipped with over 22 years of experience trying hundreds of cases, the Santa Barbara defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC represent defendants charged with possessing cocaine in Santa Barbara County. Our criminal defense law firm has earned a reputation for innovative and fearless representation, making us a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. Our legal team features former prosecutors, giving us invaluable insight into how prosecutors build cases and how to challenge their arguments effectively.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for using, purchasing, or possessing cocaine or cocaine paraphernalia, the time to seek legal help is right now. Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 for a free legal consultation about controlled substance charges in California.
Is Possessing Cocaine a Felony or Misdemeanor Charge in CA?
There are three basic types of criminal offenses in California:
- Felonies, which are the most serious offenses. In addition to carrying long prison sentences and thousands of dollars in fines, felonies on your record may also lead to additional consequences that misdemeanors do not, such as prohibitions on gun ownership or entry into other countries. If you accumulate multiple felonies, you risk a mandatory 25-year to life prison sentence under California’s “Three Strikes” law.
- Misdemeanors, which are less serious than felonies, but can still lead to jail time, expensive fines, driver’s license suspension, and a criminal record.
- “Wobblers,” which are crimes that can be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest and charge.
Possession of cocaine is typically a misdemeanor. However, cocaine possession is a felony for defendants who have previously been convicted of:
- Certain felonies, including violent sex crimes, murder, and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
- Sex crimes that require registration as a sex offender, which are sometimes described as “registerable sex offenses.”
California cocaine possession laws include:
- Health and Safety Code § 11350, Personal Possession of a Controlled Substance — This law criminalizes the possession of cocaine, and many other controlled substances, for personal use. Drug possession for personal use is sometimes called “simple” possession.
- Health and Safety Code § 11351, Possession or Purchase of Cocaine for Sale — Possession of cocaine for sale is generally a more serious offense than simple possession. Possession of drugs for the purpose of sale or distribution is sometimes called “possession with intent to distribute” or “possession with intent to deliver” (PWID).
Penalty for Cocaine Possession in CA
It’s important to understand that there can be severe criminal penalties for possession of cocaine — even if it is a misdemeanor, and even if it is the defendant’s first offense. However, being represented by a skilled cocaine possession defense attorney increases the odds that the defendant will either be acquitted, have their case dismissed, or be successful in obtaining a lighter, shorter sentence with lower fines and less jail time.
In addition to ensuring that the defendant’s legal rights are not violated, a criminal attorney can also work toward outcomes that avoid jail time altogether. For example, a Santa Barbara cocaine lawyer can improve the defendant’s likelihood of participating in a drug diversion program, such as drug court, as an alternative to incarceration. Diversion programs can allow eligible defendants to stay out of jail or prison, in exchange for complying with certain rules and requirements.
California penalties for misdemeanor possession of cocaine vary, depending on factors like the defendant’s criminal record, whether the defendant is charged with any additional offenses, and which statute the defendant is charged with violating. In cases where cocaine possession is a misdemeanor, criminal penalties may include:
- A fine of up to $1,000
- A jail sentence of up to 1 year
The court may impose the fine alone, the sentence alone, or both, depending on the case.
A defendant who is convicted of felony cocaine possession in California faces substantially harsher penalties. The defendant may be sentenced to up to three years in prison for possession of cocaine if charged as a felony due to prior convictions of sex crimes or serious felonies. Felony penalties for possession of cocaine for sale may include a fine of up to $20,000 in addition to a prison sentence of two, three, or even four years.
Santa Barbara Cocaine Possession Attorneys Can Help
Whether allegedly intended for personal use or sale/distribution, the possession of crack cocaine or powder cocaine is an extremely serious criminal charge. If you or one of your family members was arrested for cocaine possession in Santa Barbara, it is crucial for you to seek legal help as soon as possible.
The Santa Barbara defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC handle misdemeanor and felony cocaine and paraphernalia cases throughout Santa Barbara County, including Santa Maria, Lompoc, Goleta, Orcutt, Isla Vista, Carpinteria, Montecito, Guadalupe, Vandenberg Village, Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez, Mission Hills, Mission Canyon, Los Alamos, Toro Canyon, Summerland, Los Olivos, and other communities in the region. For a free legal consultation about what to do if you or a family member was recently arrested for drug possession in Santa Barbara County, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 immediately.