Drug Trafficking Attorney

An experienced and skilled criminal defense team can help your charges to be dismissed or lowered significantly. Former prosecutor, Tom Rist, has 17 years experience as a drug trafficking defense attorney.

Thomas Rist, Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Do defense lawyers represent people accused of trafficking drugs?

Under both federal and state law, crimes associated with drugs, whether production, trafficking, distribution, or sale, are severely punished. This is especially the case for the distribution or sale of narcotics for commercial purposes. A San Diego drug trafficking attorney specializes in defending clients against drug trafficking charges.

Drug trafficking is considered a particularly egregious drug crime that encompasses the production, transportation, sale, and distribution of illegal narcotics that include heroin and ecstasy.

If you face drug trafficking charges in San Diego, consulting a skilled attorney is crucial. Attorney Thomas Rist defends individuals who have been accused of drug trafficking and sales crimes in Southern California. Due to the state’s shared border with Mexico, law enforcement is always suspicious of possible drug trafficking. Indeed, in 1990 the federal government designated the California counties of San Diego, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, or HIDTAs.

For this reason, law enforcement agencies pledge significant amounts of resources to combating drug trafficking in these specific areas, which naturally leads to more arrests. This increased police activity can sometimes entangle innocent bystanders, plunging them into a legal crisis.

According to California Health and Safety Code 11370.1, if an individual is arrested in the possession of a firearm, they may be charged with possession of a controlled substance while armed. Section 11379 of the California Safety Code addresses the transportation and sale of methamphetamine, specifically. And Section 11379.6 concerns the manufacture of controlled substances.

The above are serious charges, and if an innocent individual finds themselves the subject of a drug trafficking investigation, he or she should not hesitate to contact a drug trafficking defense lawyer. The expertise of a drug trafficking attorney in San Diego can significantly influence the outcome of your case.

What are the penalties for drug trafficking in California?

In California, drug trafficking is considered a serious offense, and the penalties for those convicted can be severe. The specific penalties may vary based on the type and quantity of the drug involved, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors considered during sentencing. In general, drug trafficking is charged as a felony in California. For legal advice on drug trafficking charges, contact a reputable San Diego drug trafficking attorney.

A conviction for drug trafficking can lead to substantial prison sentences, ranging from several years to life imprisonment, especially for large-scale operations or when certain aggravating factors are present.

Alongside imprisonment, individuals convicted of drug trafficking may face significant fines. These fines can be substantial, potentially reaching tens of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the circumstances of the case. A drug trafficking attorney in San Diego often have extensive experience in handling complex drug cases.

In some cases, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution to compensate victims who suffered harm as a result of the drug trafficking activities.

Some defendants may be eligible for probation instead of or in addition to incarceration. However, probation terms are stringent, and any violation can lead to immediate incarceration. Hiring a San Diego drug trafficking attorney can provide crucial defense strategies for your case.

Drug trafficking convictions result in a felony record. Having a felony on one’s record can have serious, long-lasting consequences, affecting various aspects of life. That is to say, a conviction for drug trafficking can have profound collateral consequences:

  1. Difficulty Getting a Job: With a felony record, finding gainful employment becomes significantly challenging. Many employers conduct background checks, and having a drug trafficking conviction on record may lead to automatic disqualification or reluctance to hire the individual.
  1. Housing Problems: Renting an apartment or securing housing with a felony record can be problematic. Landlords may be hesitant to lease to individuals with criminal convictions, including drug trafficking.
  1. Financial Issues: A drug trafficking conviction can affect access to loans, financing, and credit, as financial institutions consider criminal records when assessing creditworthiness.
  1. Loss of Federal Benefits: Convicted felons may lose access to certain federal benefits, such as student loans, housing assistance, and food stamps.
  1. Damage to Personal Reputation: The stigma associated with drug trafficking convictions can harm a person’s personal and social relationships, causing damage to one’s reputation that is hard to overcome. Given the severe consequences of a drug trafficking conviction, it is crucial for anyone accused of such a crime, even if they believe they are innocent, to seek the help of a skilled and experienced defense attorney. An attorney can:
  • Provide Legal Expertise: Defense lawyers understand the complexities of the legal system and can mount a strong defense based on the specific circumstances of the case.

  • Protect Rights: Attorneys ensure that the accused person’s rights are protected throughout the legal process and that law enforcement and prosecutors follow proper procedures.

  • Gather Evidence: Lawyers can investigate the case, interview witnesses, and collect evidence that may support the defendant’s innocence or weaken the prosecution’s case.

  • Negotiate Plea Deals: In some cases, a defense lawyer may negotiate a plea deal that could lead to reduced charges or penalties.

  • Represent in Court: If the case goes to trial, the defense attorney will represent the accused in court, presenting arguments and challenging the prosecution’s evidence.

The legal penalties for drug trafficking in California are nothing to sniff at, as they include prison time, fines, restitution, probation, and a felony record. The collateral consequences of a drug trafficking conviction can have a lasting impact on various aspects of life. To protect their rights and have the best chance at a favorable outcome, it is vital for individuals accused of these crimes to seek the assistance of a skilled defense attorney. A San Diego drug trafficking attorneys understand the local laws and court systems effectively.

A lawyer can navigate the legal process, provide expert guidance, and work to secure the best possible outcome for their client.

How can a defense attorney help a person accused of drug trafficking?

A skilled San Diego drug trafficking attorney will advocate fiercely for your rights in court. A criminal defense attorney plays a critical role in helping a person accused of drug trafficking in California. Here is how lawyers can assist:

  • Legal Expertise

A defense attorney possesses in-depth knowledge of criminal law, evidence rules, and court procedures. Lawyers can use this expertise to analyze the details of the case, identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument, and build a strong defense strategy.

  • Protecting Constitutional Rights

The guidance of a drug trafficking defense attorney in San Diego is invaluable during legal proceedings. Drug defense lawyer ensures that their client’s constitutional rights are upheld throughout the legal process. This includes protection against unlawful searches and seizures, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In California, many drug cases arise after law enforcement officers conduct searches of a person’s vehicle or home without a valid search warrant or probable cause. If a search is conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment, therefore being unconstitutional, any evidence obtained during that search may be deemed inadmissible in court.

Let’s consider a scenario where a person is driving a car and is stopped by the police without any reasonable suspicion or traffic violation. The officer asks to search the vehicle, and the driver, feeling intimidated, consents to the search. During the search, the officer finds illegal drugs hidden in the trunk. In this case, the defense attorney could argue that the search was unconstitutional, as there was no valid reason for the initial stop, and any evidence obtained during the illegal search should be excluded from the trial.

  • Lack of Evidence:

If evidence against the accused is insufficient or inadmissible, a defense attorney may move to have the case dropped or the charges reduced.

A skilled defense lawyer can also raise separate arguments to defend their client. The attorney may raise some of the following issues:

    • Unaware of Drug Possession: The defense attorney can argue that the accused had no knowledge of the drugs found in their possession. This can be particularly relevant if someone else placed the drugs without the person’s knowledge.

    • Legitimate Reason to Possess Drugs: If the accused had a valid prescription for the drugs found, the defense attorney can present evidence to support this claim.

    • Innocent Bystander: In some cases, the accused may have been present at the location where drugs were found but had no involvement or knowledge of the drug trafficking activity. A defense attorney can present evidence to demonstrate their lack of association with the crime.

    • Substance Not within Legal Definition: The defense attorney can challenge the validity of the evidence, arguing that the substance seized by law enforcement was not a controlled substance as defined by law.

In certain situations where the evidence against the accused is strong, a defense attorney may negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. A plea bargain involves the accused agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge or a reduced sentence in exchange for avoiding a trial. This approach can be sensible if the chances of winning the case at trial are slim, and a plea deal offers a more favorable outcome than a potential conviction on more serious charges.

In sum, a defense lawyer can provide valuable assistance to a person accused of drug trafficking in California. A skilled attorney can protect their client’s constitutional rights, challenge the legality of evidence obtained through unconstitutional searches, and explore various defenses to build a strong case. Additionally, if the evidence is weak, a defense attorney can work towards having the case dropped, and if necessary, a lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain to achieve a more favorable resolution.

Contact a drug trafficking defense lawyer today

Thomas Rist is an experienced and dedicated defense attorney who can provide skilled legal representation to individuals facing drug trafficking charges in Southern California. With his in-depth knowledge of criminal law and a proven track record of defending clients in complex cases, he is well-equipped to protect his clients’ rights and mount a strong defense. Thomas Rist understands the intricacies and nuances of drug trafficking cases, including potential unconstitutional searches and the various defenses available. Whether it is challenging the evidence, negotiating plea bargains, or presenting a compelling defense in court, Thomas Rist is committed to securing the best possible outcome for his clients. San Diego drug trafficking attorneys can negotiate plea deals or fight for acquittals in drug cases. If you find yourself accused of drug trafficking in Southern California, Thomas Rist is the attorney you can trust to provide compassionate guidance and effective advocacy during this challenging time.

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