Defenses to Possession of Drugs for Sale
At the Castillo Law Office, we understand the serious consequences of a
conviction for possession of drugs for sale. Having defended many of these
cases in the past, we take pride in our aggressive and unique approach
to defending drug crimes in Alameda County and throughout the San Francisco
Bay Area. We understand the process the police use to investigate sales,
and use that to benefit our clients.
Police investigations began by observations of suspicious activity or the
arrest of a lower level drug user. If the police observe suspicious conduct,
the police will monitor a person for evidence of sales, request a wiretap,
or send in a confidential informant (sometimes a civilian facing charges,
other times an undercover cop). If the police arrest a lower level drug
user, the police will offer that person immunity for testifying against
the seller. Eventually, once the police believe there is sufficient probable
cause, they will request a search warrant and search the person or home.
Experienced Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo uses the
following defense strategies to make sure clients receive the best possible
deal, have their case dismissed, or make an informed decision to take
the case to a jury trial.
- Challenge the police investigation by questioning the truthfulness of the
informant. If the police investigation began with a confidential informant
or lower level drug user, we will use their criminal record and illicit
background to show a lack of credibility. Jurors and judges know that
informants often lie to benefit themselves. If the district attorney will
not reveal the identity of the informant, Oakland criminal defense attorney
Ernesto Castillo will file a motion to compel the disclosure of the informant.
Some cases are dropped simply because the government does not want to
reveal the identity of the informant, or because revealing the identity
of the informant would reveal that the informant was compensated for their services.
Challenge the police investigation by suppressing the seized evidence.
The police make errors in the warrant process either because there was
insufficient probable cause, false information, inaccurately described
items, an incorrect address, a delayed execution that makes the warrant
stale, an affidavit not signed under oath, or an unauthorized magistrate.
These errors are dealt with in a motion to quash the search warrant under
the Fourth Amendment. A
Franks motion to suppress evidence because of a false sworn statement in the warrant application can be particularly
effective to challenge a warrant, and requires a hearing on the truth
of the sworn statement. The evidence from searches of cars and persons
can also be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment if the police did not
have probable cause to search or there was no danger to the police officer
requiring a protective sweep. Confessions can be suppressed under the
Fifth and Sixth Amendment if the police did not give proper warnings or
used coercive interview techniques. At the Castillo Law Office, we review
every warrant, statement, and seizure to see if it violates the Constitution.
If there is a violation, we fight aggressively to make sure the illegal
evidence is suppressed.
- Challenge the police investigation by questioning their use of science.
Many drugs have derivatives that are not illegal. Possession of these
derivatives is not unlawful, but the district attorney will still allege
sales or production. If there is an inaccuracy in the government's
testing, the Castillo Law Office will hire an independent expert to examine
the components of the substance to prove it is lawful.
Challenge the police investigation by showing misconduct. Whether the police
lied or used unnecessary force, no district attorney wants a jury composed
of members of the public to hear how the government is abusing their powers. A
Pitchess motion can reveal past discipline or complaint reports in a police officer's
file. Police misconduct gives much more bargaining power to the defense,
Oakland where the police department policies are reviewed by a federal
court because of substantial past abuse on civilians, mainly in drug cases.
- Challenge the wiretap. Wiretaps should only be used for extraordinary situations
when it is a necessity. The government has to make this specific showing
before obtaining an order for a wiretap. The police, particularly in Alameda
County, have begun to use wiretaps more often, sometimes without the required
showing of necessity. Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo
has particular experience in this developing field. He uses his unique
knowledge to seek to suppress the unlawful wiretap.
- Challenge the evidence of sales. Evidence of sales includes individual
packaging, cash on hand, bank transactions, guns on hand, pay owe sheets,
large quantities of drugs, and observations of transactions. In a conspiracy
for the sale of drugs, the alleged co-conspirator must have knowledge
of the drug sales and do some overt act to further the conspiracy with
the intention to further the conspiracy. In conspiracy cases, it is particularly
important to prove a defendant's whereabouts to show they were not
involved in any of the transaction. This can be shown using GPS. Without
proof of drug sales, the government will not be able to bring a successful case.
Negotiate an alternative plea for diversion or drug treatment. In place
of pleading guilty to a drug sale offense with months or years in jail,
Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo can seek a negotiated
disposition. Instead of jail, a criminal defendant is diverted into drug
court and a
drug treatment program under Proposition 36, or diverted to a deferred entry of judgment under
Penal Code section 1000, where as long as the defendant stays clean and out of trouble for a year
almost all of the consequences of a conviction will disappear.
In a possession of medical marijuana for sale case, a
valid medical marijuana recommendation,
Drug cases are serious because of the risk of substantial time in jail.
Drug cases are complicated because the police have usually found drugs
on the defendant that need to be suppressed. Our aggressive Oakland criminal
defense attorney Ernesto Castillo does not back down to the challenge,
and is prepared to use every means necessary to fight the case.
Contact Castillo Law Office today for a free consultation.