Defense Attorney for Ventura Drug Offenses
As a defense attorney for Ventura drug offenses, Jennifer Zide will defend you in court against charges of: possession of a controlled substance; under the influence of a controlled substance; felony possession of a controlled substance; and possession or transportation for sales.
POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
To understand your charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance in Ventura County, we first turn to the legal requirements. To be considered to be in “possession” of something, as far as a legal definition, you must:
- be aware of its existence;
- actually exercise control over or have the right to control it;
- know of its nature; and
- have an amount sufficient to be charged with possession.
It is possible that you may at first appear to be “in possession” of something, such as the case where it is found in your belongings or in your car, but you are honestly either not aware that it is there or not aware of what it is. A separate issue arises over whether you can exercise “control” over something that is either not yours or something that you don’t even realize is present.
These issues of “knowledge” and “control” are central themes in a case of misdemeanor or felony possession of a controlled substance under Health and Safety Code section 11350 or 11377. The maximum sentence as a misdemeanor is 1 year in county jail while the maximum sentence for a felony is three years in state prison. In cases of possession of a controlled substance, clients who are “1st time” offenders may qualify for Diversion, or a program of drug counseling, in lieu of custody time. Even for clients with a more extensive drug-related criminal history, we at the Law Office of Jennifer Zide have been successful in getting our clients a drug treatment alternative in lieu of lengthy prison sentences.
FELONY POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE IN VIOLATION OF HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTION 11350: A SAMPLE DEFENSE AT TRIAL
In one of my trials, my client was facing a charge of felony possession of methamphetamine in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11350. He was also charged with felony transportation of methamphetamine on the basis that the drugs were found in a car, which my client was then driving. The drugs were found on the driver’s side floorboard and my client was the driver and the only person in the car. The officer testified to an alleged “furtive movement” by my client of reaching down (to the area where the drugs were then found) right before he was pulled over for a traffic infraction stop. The defense was lack of knowledge, coupled with the lack of ability to control a substance or the right to control a substance that you do not even know is there. In this situation, my client had borrowed the car.
Our investigation revealed that that the registered owner of the car had a felony conviction for the possession of methamphetamine in that same car, arising out of an incident that occurred just weeks before my client was stopped. Also, under cross-examination, the officer admitted to me that the drugs were not, in fact, where he had claimed in his police report – out in full view on the driver’s side floorboard where anyone driving the car would have seen them. The officer admitted that, in fact, the drugs were off to the side and partially concealed by the trunk release button, where anyone, including my client, could have missed them. In that case, we were able to get the client a hung jury in favor of the defense, 9 to 3 for not guilty, and the case was subsequently dismissed.
UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
In the case of a charge of Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11550, even a “positive” test result is not the end of the inquiry. We carefully analyze your case, including the officer’s alleged observations of you, the results of the so-called drug influence evaluation (or DRE) and the test results themselves. We work with an experienced drug influence evaluation expert who is available to evaluate all the scientific issues in your case. We obtain additional discovery on your test result, including a breakdown of the alleged levels of the substance in your system, to give you the best possible defense. Although presented as scientific and reliable by law enforcement, the drug influence evaluation given by officers is simply not a reliable gauge of whether a person is, at that moment, under the influence of a controlled substance. It is important to know that a positive test for a substance does not mean that you are, at that moment, under the influence of that substance; it could very well be lingering in your system from some earlier point of use. A charge of Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance requires that the substance is, at that time, affecting you on a biological level, not just in your body. That is why the officer observations, alleged symptoms, and the results of any drug influence evaluation tests and exercises, supposedly designed to evaluate “impairment”, are such important pieces of the puzzle in any Under the Influence case. At the Law Office of Jennifer Zide, we are always available for consultation and dedicated to giving you the best defense possible when you are facing a charge of Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance in Ventura or Santa Barbara Counties.
POSSESSION OR TRANSPORTATION FOR SALES
Special issues arise in a situation where a client is charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance for Sale or charged with Transportation of a Controlled Substance. In the case of a Transportation charge, the heart of the case is whether the client had knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance and the ability to control it, just like with Possession for Personal Use. As an additional requirement for the charge, the substance must be in the process of being transported. As referenced by the above case, simply being present in the car with drugs (even under circumstances that at first seem “suspicious”) is not sufficient to prove that a client is guilty under this charge. In the case of Possession for Sales, the analysis of a case hinges on the alleged facts and observations. In the case of alleged sales, the officers are looking for what are termed “indicia of sales”, including large amounts of cash, baggies/ means of packaging, scales for weighing, use of cell phone (for drug related messages), large amounts of drugs, drugs packaged in smaller quantities apparently for buyers, results of surveillance, and any statements by witnesses or by the defendant. At the Law Office of Jennifer Zide, we critically examine all the evidence gathered in an effort to dismantle the case against you. Whether you are facing a charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance for personal use or Possession for Sales, call us today at 805-901-5403 to discuss the unique facts of your case and what we can do to help. From expert analysis to expert investigation, we do what it takes to put you in the best possible position and help you find justice in your case.