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Don’t Let a Simple Mistake Derail Your Life

Don't Let a Simple Mistake Derail Your Life

Changes in the laws regarding possession of marijuana and controlled substances have lulled many people in Oakland into a false sense of complacency concerning drug crimes. However, the penalties related to other drug offenses remain severe, and even a “minor” drug conviction could result in consequences that cause difficulties for years to come. A drug conviction on your record may cause you to lose a job or professional license or make it difficult to convince banks or landlords to trust you. In light of this, it is worthwhile to fight vigorously against almost any drug charges, no matter how inconsequential they may seem in comparison with other crimes. An Oakland drug lawyer who knows how to handle crimes involving controlled substances may be able to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. To get started on your defense, call and schedule a consultation free consultation.

How Drugs are Classified in the United States

Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals are classified into 5 categories or schedules based on the drug’s accepted medical use and the potential for abuse. Schedule 1 drugs are defined as drugs with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, while Schedule 5 drugs are widely accepted in the medical community with a low potential for abuse. Some of the most common drugs in each schedule include:

  • Schedule 1: Heroin, LSD, Ecstacy, Peyote, Marijuana
  • Schedule 2: Cocaine, Methamphetamine, OxyContin, Fentanyl, Adderrall, Hydrocodone, Opium
  • Schedule 3: Ketamine, Anabolic Steroids, Testosterone
  • Schedule 4: Xanax, Valium, Ambien, Tramadol
  • Schedule 5: Cough Syrup with Codeine, Lomotil, Lyrica

No matter the type or schedule of the drug you are facing criminal charges for, we can help. Contact an Oakland drug lawyer on our team today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your options.

Common Drug Crimes in Oakland

Any crime that relates to the illegal possession, manufacturing, or distribution of drugs is considered a drug crime. As such, there are a number of different crimes that are considered drug offenses. Our Oakland drug attorneys have represented clients facing a variety of different drug crimes, and we’ve been able to achieve great outcomes for our clients in these cases. Some of the most common drug offenses that we represent clients accused of include:

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance (HSC 11350(a)) – The most basic drug offense is the possession – of a controlled substance, which makes it illegal to possess any controlled substance without a valid prescription.
  • Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (HSC 11351) – It is illegal to possess drugs with the intent to sale them without proper authorization.
  • Sale or Transportation for Sale (HSC 11352(a)) – It is unlawful to transport, import, sell, furnish, administer, give away, or offer to do any of these with a controlled substance.
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (HSC 11364) – The possession of anything that is used to ingest a controlled substance is its own separate crime.
  • Forging a Prescription (HSC 11368) – Forging or altering a prescription for any narcotic drug is illegal.
  • Possession of Marijuana (HSC 11357(a)) – While marijuana is legal for recreational use in California, it is still illegal to possess the substance in specific situations. You must not be under the age of 18, possess more than 28.5 grams, or possess more than 8 grams of hash.
  • Cultivation of Marijuana (HS 11358) – It is illegal to cultivate marijuana, except as otherwise provided by the law.
  • Marijuana Sales (HS 11360) – It is unlawful to transport, import, sell, furnish, administer, give away, or offer to do any of the items listed above unless otherwise permitted by the law.
  • Possession of Methamphetamine (HS 11377(a)) – The possession of methamphetamine has its own section and is illegal in California.
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (CVC 23152(a) & CVC 23152(f)) – It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
  • Aiding and Abetting the Unlawful Use of a Controlled Substance (HSC 11365) – It is a crime to aid or – abet the use of an illegal substance.
  • Selling Fake Drugs (HSC 11355) – It is against the law to sell, furnish, or transport a fake version of a controlled substance.
  • Drug Conspiracy (PC 182) – It is a crime to plan to commit a drug crime with another person. For a prosecutor to prove this, they must show that you and at least one other person agreed to commit a crime and your co-conspirator committed an act to further your agreement.

If you have been charged with any of the violations listed above, it is important that you speak with a drug lawyer in Oakland. Contact The Nieves Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about the exact criminal charges you are facing and how we can help you fight those charges.

How is The Nieves Law Firm's Legal Representation Tailored to Every Client?

What sets our firm apart from others is the level of personal attention we give our clients – our attention to detail. We know what a good outcome looks like, and we are always fighting for the best resolution in every case. We have developed strong relationships within the legal community that allows us to put our client’s best foot forward. We are strong litigators, and we love to win. We can’t guarantee any outcome, but we’ve litigated hundreds of motions related to searches, police misconduct, and the reduction of charges. We’ve taken several cases to jury trial, and we’ve won numerous sales-related drug cases in trial. We’re always focused on achieving the goals we set forth while working with our clients, which allows us to find resolutions that don’t impact our clients’ plans for the future. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are what previous clients had to say about our team and our legal work.

Eric G.

“I was being held down from being able to succeed in life because of a marijuana felony I got charged with almost ten years ago. I slept soundly knowing that they were handling my case, and that they would bring back the freedoms I had taken away from me.”

- Eric G. Google
Andrew S.

“Anybody looking for an attorney that truly works, dedicates, and cares for YOU, The Nieves Law firm is a GO! I put myself in a position of losing my livelihood, everything that I have worked so hard for over years, due to some wrong decisions I made. Thank you so much for working your magic.”

- Andrew S. Google
Corey B.

“I’d never had any legal issue until a couple of months ago. I’ll spare the details but let’s just say I had serious charges that Nieves Law Firm was able to get dismissed! I would recommend Nieves Law Firm to anyone. This team is awesome!!!”

- Corey B. Google

Penalties for Drug Charges in Oakland

Under California Health and Safety Code §11350, anyone found in possession of a controlled substance may be sentenced to up to one year in county jail and be required to pay a fine. This law applies to illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine, as well as prescription narcotics if they have been obtained without a valid prescription. If the individual charged has prior drug convictions, they may be subject to more severe penalties for a possession charge.

Cal. Health and Saf. Code §11550 provides similar penalties for those found to be using or under the influence of a controlled substance, and §11364 provides misdemeanor penalties for those found to possess prohibited drug paraphernalia.

Drug offenses involving more than simple possession or substances other than marijuana are treated substantially more harshly in Oakland courts. For example, the following actions are all considered felonies with penalties that may include several years in prison:

  • Possession for sale of narcotics
  • Sale or transportation of a controlled substance
  • Manufacturing drugs and narcotics

If you are facing either misdemeanor or felony drug charges, we can help. Contact an Oakland drug attorney at The Nieves Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you fight your drug charges.

Aggravating Factors in Drug Cases

An important aspect of every criminal charge is whether or not you are in violation of an aggravating factor. In the criminal defense world, aggravating factors are specific circumstances that increase the penalty for an alleged crime. Some common types of aggravating factors in Oakland drug cases include:

  • Possession or Sale of Drugs within 1,000 feet of Drug Free Areas Like Schools, Playgrounds, Youth Centers, etc.
  • Use of a Firearm to Commit the Alleged Crime
  • Prior Drug-Related Convictions / Repeat Offenses
  • Committing Drug Crimes in the Presence of Minors
  • Large Quantities of Drugs
  • Demonstration of Criminal Sophistication or Professionalism
  • Taking Advantage of a Position of Trust or Confidence

How Drug Crimes Could Impact Your Immigration Status

ImmigrationDid you know that a conviction for a drug-related crime could lead to deportation? Yes, even something as simple as possession a controlled substance (other than marijuana) could impact your immigration status. Drug convictions are treated harshly under immigration laws, and many different types of drug charges can affect your immigration status – regardless of whether the crime is considered a felony or misdemeanor. Typically, immigrants who are convicted of crimes related to the transportation, cultivation, or selling of controlled substances will be deported with no possibility for relief. This is why it is so important to share your immigration status with your attorney, and why our team always asks clients about their immigration status and what their goals for the future are.

If you are convicted of a drug crime and it is leading to immigration consequences that you weren’t aware of at the time of conviction, you could pursue relief through a motion to vacate. Click here to learn more about motions to vacate and how our office can help with these specific types of conviction relief.

How We Help with Your Drug Charges

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Common Defenses to Drug Charges

Knowledgeable attorneys understand that there are a number of defenses that may be applicable in certain legal situations, including various charges involving controlled substances. To begin with, every criminal offense in Oakland consists of certain elements which must be proven in order to obtain a conviction. Therefore, showing that there is insufficient proof regarding one of these elements frequently forms the backbone of an effective defense.

For instance, many offenses require the individual charged to be aware of the nature of a substance or device before they may be convicted of having it in their possession illegally.

In other cases, it could be argued that police violated someone’s rights or otherwise failed to follow proper procedure during an investigation or arrest. They may have failed to follow search and seizure rules, which could lead to certain evidence being suppressed and ultimately a dismissal of your charges altogether. Law enforcement could also fail to obtain a legitimate warrant, violate entrapment laws, or make an arrest without sufficient evidence.

If evidence is obtained in violation of the law, an attorney could make a motion to suppress that evidence, which may, in turn, lead to the dismissal of a case. A drug lawyer in Oakland could provide further information about what defenses may apply to an individual case. If you are facing drug charges in Oakland or nearby, you should contact a drug charges lawyer as soon as possible.

Illegal Searches and Seizures in Drug Cases

One of the best ways to fight a drug charge is by challenging the legality of the search or seizure performed by law enforcement. If your attorney can show that the search was not lawful, then any evidence that law enforcement found during the search will be inadmissible in court. The Fourth Amendment protects us from illegal searches and ensures that law enforcement cannot search you or your belongings unless they have obtained a search warrant or they meet one of a number of exceptions. These exceptions include:

  • Consent – You consent to a search
  • The Plain View Exception – The item(s) are in plain view
  • Incident of an Arrest – The officer is protecting themselves or believes the evidence will be destroyed
  • Probable Cause – The police have probable cause to believe there is criminal evidence in the vehicle
  • Emergency Situations – Searches performed to prevent physical harm, damage, or to find a suspect
  • Terry Pat – Law enforcement may frisk you in order to locate weapons

If you believe you were subject to an illegal search by law enforcement, we may be able to help you challenge throughout the legal process. An Oakland drug lawyer could provide more information about illegal searches and help work to get the search in your drug case thrown out.

Indicia of Sale in Oakland Drug Cases

Sometimes law enforcement is unable to obtain direct evidence that shows that a drug transaction took place. In these specific situations, police will look for evidence that is known as indicia of sale. Basically, they are looking for evidence that indicates you have or plan on selling the controlled substances. Some evidence that may be used to prove indicia of sale include:

  • Small Baggies
  • Scales
  • Large Quantities of Cash
  • Large Quantities of Specific Drugs
  • High number of individuals coming into and out of a house

The District Attorney (DA) can use this evidence to bring forward charges related to the sale of drugs, even if they never witnessed a transaction. Drug charges related to the sale or distribution of drugs are always severe, and it is important that you have an experienced Oakland drug attorney on your side if you are facing this life- altering criminal charges. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you fight your drug trafficking charges.

Real Cases. Real Results.

Airport Drug Charges
Outcome – Case Dismissed
Client charged with felony Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (HS 11360(a)(3)(D)) in Alameda County after TSA agents found over five pounds of marijuana in their luggage at the Oakland International Airport. Since the charge was a felony, the client was facing serious penalties if found guilty. The Nieves Law Firm attorneys worked diligently to secure an outright dismissal of the case.
Possession of a Controlled Substance
Outcome – Deferred Entry of Judgment
Client charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (HS 11350(a)) in Alameda County. The Nieves Law Firm was able to file a Motion to Quash, Motion to Traverse, and Motion to Reveal the Identity of a Confidential Informant that led to the successful resolution of the case as a three-month deferred prosecution and dismissal with 25 Narcotics Anonymous classes.
Marijuana Possession for Sale
Outcome – All Charges Dismissed and Property Ordered to be Returned to Client
Client charged with Possession of Marijuana for Sale of (HS 11359(B)), misdemeanor Selling Marijuana without a License (HS 11360(A)(2)), and Reckless Driving (VC 23103(A)) in Alameda County after being pulled over for a traffic violation. Our team was able to get all charges dismissed and the property, inclusive of thousands of dollars, returned to the client upon dismissal.
Possession of Methamphetamines with Immigration Consequences
Outcome – Case Dismissed after Completion of Drug Court
Client charged with misdemeanor Possession of Methamphetamines (HS 11377(a)) in San Mateo County. Due to the nature of the crime, the client was facing potential immigration consequences. The Nieves Law Firm worked to achieve a resolution that led to dismissal of the case upon successful completion of diversion.

Penal Code 1275 allows the court to hold somebody in custody pending trial. Essentially, al court can place a hold on your bail if they see fit. In most cases involving drug crimes, a PC 1275 hold is placed on a person if they believe the money used for bail came from some form of illegal activity, such as the manufacturing, transportation, or sale of controlled substances. For a judge, prosecutor, or police officer to place a hold on somebody’s bail, they must believe the money came from some sort of felony crime. They cannot place a hold If they suspect the money came from a misdemeanor offense.

The defendant can challenge the PC 1275 hold at a court hearing, If you can prove by a “preponderance of evidence” that the money was obtained legally, the court must remove or release the bail hold. If you need assistance with a bail hold, contact our office to schedule a consultation and see how we can help.

Specific drug crimes may be prosecuted in Federal Court rather than State Court depending on the facts and circumstances that led to criminal charges. This is relevant as the penalties for federal crimes are often more severe, and drug crimes are no exception. For example, a person federally charged with trafficking cocaine could face up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million. So, what constitutes a federal crime? All crimes that occur across multiple state lines can be charged as a federal offense. Additionally, any crimes committed on federal land such as national parks, national wildlife refuges, or military reservations can be prosecuted in federal court. Lastly, any crime that is being investigated by a federal agency such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may be prosecuted in federal court.

Most federal drug crimes are subject to mandatory minimum penalties, meaning that the judge must sentence you to a specific penalty unless persecutors specifically request to sentence you below the mandatory minimum. Due to the harsh penalties associated with federal crimes, it is important that you work with a skilled drug lawyer in Oakland if you’re facing federal drug charges. We have experience with drug cases, and we have a good understanding of the federal laws that may play a role in your drug case, such as what constitutes an illegal search. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and further discuss your case.

Every person who has traveled by plane understands the stressful experience associated with navigating through an airport. However, that stress can go to another level if you are arrested for the possession of illegal drugs. While simple possession of marijuana is legal in California by individuals over the age of 18, it is still illegal federally and therefore a federal crime to possess marijuana or other drugs at an airport. Crimes committed at an airport can be charged in either State or Federal court, making them even more complicated.

Possession of most controlled substances other than marijuana is a misdemeanor, but they can be considered a felony depending on the quantity law enforcement finds. At The Nieves Law Firm, we have experience representing individuals who were arrested at an airport. If you’re facing drug charges due to an arrest that occurred at an airport, we may be able to help.

Marijuana is treated differently under California law than other substances. Possession of less than an ounce by someone under 18 years of age is not generally prosecuted, and possession of up to 28.5 grams is an infraction punishable by a fine, as well as drug education and counseling.

Possession of more than that amount (28.5 grams) is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Penalties for sale, possession with intent to distribute, and cultivation of marijuana are all similar unless the individual involved has certain prior convictions or attempts to distribute marijuana to minors under the age of 18. In either of those cases, the offense becomes a felony. In all cases, it is important to remember that marijuana is still a Schedule I drug under federal law and can be punished as a federal offense.

If you have a prior conviction for a drug crime, you may be wondering about your options to clean up your criminal record. Thankfully, there are a number of different types of conviction relief that may be pertinent based on your situation. One of the most prominent types of record cleanup for individuals who were convicted of marijuana crimes is available under Proposition 64. Proposition 64 was passed by voters in November of 2016, and it legalized the recreational use of marijuana. However, the proposition also provided people with marijuana convictions an avenue to petition the court to have their sentence reduced or conviction dismissed. The qualifying offenses for relief under Prop. 64 are:

  • Possession of Marijuana (HSC 11357)
  • Cultivation of Marijuana (HSC 11358)
  • Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana (HSC 11359)
  • Sale or Transportation of Marijuana (HSC 11360)

If you were convicted of any of the offenses listed above, you may be eligible for relief under Prop 64. Even if you were convicted of a drug crime not listed above, you may be eligible for other forms of conviction relief. At The Nieves Law Firm, we are a leader in post-conviction relief in California and have had multiple published opinions related to our work in this field. If you need assistance getting relief from a prior conviction, give us a call. Click here to learn more about how we can help with post-conviction relief.

How a Drug Lawyer in Oakland Can Help

Even minor drug offenses can have major consequences down the road. If you are facing any type of criminal charges involving the possession, sale, transportation, or manufacturing of any controlled substance, you should consider talking to an Oakland drug lawyer as soon as possible. They could help explain your charges, the penalties you’re facing, and your options for protecting your rights throughout the legal process. The consultation is free, so call now to find out how an attorney with knowledge and experience in local drug law could help.

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Client Reviews

By: Adino W

Title: Responsive, Friendly and Supportive

I’m taking this time to thank the staff of Nieves Law Firm. From my consultation, making decisions on retaining and end results. The Nieves Law Firm staff has been very responsive, friendly and supportive of my concerns about my case. I highly recommend their services to anyone. Thank you Nadia and the Nieves Law Firm.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars
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