San Diego Heroin Defense Attorney
Heroin is a drug that is classified as an opioid analgesic. In medical situations, it is referred to as a diamorphine and is used to treat pain for severe conditions such as heart attacks. It goes by the name heroin when it is used, possessed, or sold illegally. The laws in California regarding heroin are strict, and they are strongly enforced. There is no minimum amount for the possession of heroin, and this will be treated as a felony charge. Possessing a very small amount of heroin could have you facing up to one year in jail.
But that does not mean that there are no defenses for individuals charged with these crimes. If you have been charged with a heroin crime in San Diego, you need to hire an attorney familiar with the laws and the burden of proof on the part of state officials.
Types of Heroin Crimes
In San Diego there are three main types of heroin crimes. They are possession, possession with the intent to sell, and trafficking.
- Possession refers to having heroin on your person, or having it in your residence or vehicle where it is found during a search. There does not need to be any proof that you used the drug, and you do not need to be using the drug for a charge of possession.
- Possession with intent to sell includes all the criteria required for possession, but typically refers to larger amounts of heroin. When there is a large amount and associated paraphernalia such as baggies and scales, arresting offices may determine the individual planned to sell the heroin. This will result in a more serious charge.
- Trafficking refers to very large amounts of heroin, but differs from possession with intent to sell in one way. If it is believed that the person was planning on leaving his own jurisdiction with the intent to sell, whether it be crossing state or county lines, he may face a heroin trafficking charge.
Burden of Proof on the Prosecution
While heroin charges are very serious, the prosecution has to prove certain elements in order to win a conviction after an arrest has been made. These elements include:
- Possession. The person had to be in physical control of the heroin at the time of arrest.
- Knowledge. The person knew that he possessed heroin. The accused did not need to be holding or touching the heroin at the time. Two or more people may be charged under this element; for example, when two people are in a vehicle and heroin is found inside that vehicle.
- Quantity. In cases where the charge is intent to sell, the prosecution must prove that the accused had a large quantity of heroin. Typically, 0.05 grams of heroin is considered an amount for personal use. Anything over that amount may result in a charge of intent to sell.
Penalties for Heroin Conviction
When a person is convicted of a heroin charge - meaning he has been arrested, tried, and found guilty of the charge - penalties can be severe. Even a simple possession charge can result in up to one year in state prison. Trafficking, on the other hand, can result in up to nine years and a fine of $50,000.
While the situation may seem hopeless, there are defenses to heroin crimes. In November 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36, which states that individuals charged with non-violent drug offenses must be offered treatment options rather than jail time. A deferred judgement, in which a judge will withhold finding the accused guilty and instead place him on probation, may also be possible.
Being charged with a heroin crime can be very frightening. If you have been charged with this type of crime, your best chance for a positive outcome is contacting a San Diego drug crime attorney at JD Law at (760) 630-2000. James N. Dicks is a former narcotics officer with the LAPD and he knows when arrests and charges are lawful, and when they are not. He will work hard to provide a defense that can either beat the charges, or get them lowered. This is one fight you do not have to take on by yourself. Call Mr. Dicks today and get the help you need.