Drug Lawyer San Francisco CA
Options for Drug Possession Cases
If you were recently charged with drug possession, you will want to carefully strategize your next steps. Facing what may be an extensive court trial can feel daunting, especially when doing so without legal representation. There are a number of benefits to retaining an attorney for drug possession charges. They will be able to help you thoughtfully weigh your options, discuss with you possible consequences if convicted and help determine if accepting a plea deal is in your best interest.
Christopher F. Morales of The Morales Law Firm has defended clients against drug crimes and asset forfeiture since 1991. If you have been arrested, contact our office to find out how an experienced San Francisco drug lawyer may defend you against those charges. We can provide you with a case review at no charge.
What is a Plea Deal?
A plea deal, also known as a plea bargain, allows for a quick resolution to criminal cases. There are a number of reasons that this is a preferred option for both the prosecutor and the defense. This can prevent the occurrence of a lengthy and costly court trial for both sides. A plea bargain is not reserved for the prosecutor alone. In fact, your drug lawyer in San Francisco CA can also propose a plea deal to the prosecutor. A drug lawyer will be able to review the details of your case and determine if a plea deal is in your best interest.
Negotiating Plea Deal
Sometimes a plea deal is your best option. Having the ability to accept a plea deal can be beneficial because it allows for you to accept charges that are reduced. Plea deals can be attractive options for the court system as it can help them move cases along quicker than going through a lengthy trial. Often, the prosecutor will propose either:
- Reduced charges
- To drop one of the charges
- In exchange for a plea, the prosecutor can even recommend that the consequences of a conviction are more lenient
When negotiating a plea deal, there are two common forms of bargaining that a drug lawyer in San Francisco may access or draw from:
- Charge Bargaining is perhaps the most widely accessed type of plea. This usually involves the defendant agreeing to plead guilty for one charge in exchange for a case dismissal of other crimes the defendant has been charged with.
- Sentence Bargaining is when the defendant can enter a plea of guilty in exchange for a more lenient sentence.
The accused will then enter a plea of guilty or no contest. Negotiating a plea deal is more likely to happen if you have legal representation. An attorney will be able to assess the climate of the courtroom and work closely with the prosecutor to draw up an agreement that is in your best interest. A plea deal will not only save the prosecutor time and allow for them to work on cases that are more severe; it can also save you the expense of extensive legal fees.
A drug lawyer can discuss all of your options with you and help you decide if a plea deal is in your best interest. Having a professional by your side during such a stressful time can give you a sense of relief. It is comforting to know that an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced to help you determine the best way to move forward.
Asset Forfeiture Following Drug Convictions
A drug lawyer in San Francisco CA understands that the process of asset forfeiture can occur in two scenarios: when a defendant is convicted of a crime, or if a person is arrested or detained by law enforcement officers. Asset forfeiture is intended to “take the profit out of crime.” However, asset forfeiture, especially in civil forfeiture cases, has been criticized for punishing innocent citizens in order to provide funds for law enforcement.
What Is Asset Forfeiture?
Asset forfeiture is the taking of a person’s property by state or federal governments if the property is considered fruits or profit of illegal activities, or contraband. Contraband may include any illegal drugs seized during an arrest. The government can seize a person’s cash, cars, houses, and bank accounts if they believe that these assets are part of criminal proceeds. There are different kinds of asset forfeitures, the main ones being civil and criminal asset forfeiture. A drug lawyer in San Francisco CA may be able to limit what of your assets they are able to seize.
In the case of criminal forfeiture, the government seizes the defendant’s property after the defendant is prosecuted and convicted of a crime. Forfeiture proceedings after a criminal conviction are common in drug cases. In cases of civil forfeiture, a person’s property can be seized without the person being charged of any crime if the police suspect that the property is the proceeds of a criminal activity. The government has to give the owner of the property that is subject to forfeiture notice of a hearing on the appropriateness of forfeiture.
Under the law, the following property can be subject to forfeiture:
- Any funds used or meant to be used to procure, manufacture, deliver, or distribute any illegal drug;
- Any assets or property that can be characterized, directly or indirectly, as the proceeds of the sale of illegal drugs;
- Any property bought, directly or indirectly, using the proceeds of illegal drug sales; and
- All property used or intended for use, in committing certain drug crimes.
Once the property is seized and after a hearing determines that the property is to be forfeited to the government, the property is usually auctioned off at a public auction. The proceeds go into a fund to be distributed to various law enforcement groups.
The law aims to protect an innocent owner whose property is seized while in the possession of another person who is arrested for a drug crime. If the owner did not know of the defendant’s actions, the owner may be able to reclaim his property. It may be necessary to hire the services of a drug lawyer who San Francisco CA community members rely on to make sure that law enforcement acts lawfully. In addition, any money a defendant uses to pay attorney’s fees in relation to representation in a criminal proceeding is not subject to forfeiture either.
Contact a Drug Lawyer in San Francisco CA
If you or someone you know is arrested for a state or federal drug crime, contact an aggressive and experienced drug lawyer in San Francisco CA immediately. Call Christopher F. Morales of The Morales Law Firm today to set up a free consultation with a drug lawyer San Francisco CA offers.