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Defenses to Possession of Drugs for Sale

Were you arrested for possession of drugs to sell?

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, particularly in 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, personal use, caregiver, or collective.

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.

Hear it From A Few
Of Our Clients

  • I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.

    “Ernie Castillo was highly recommended to us. I researched and interviewed a few attorneys before making a decision of who we were going to select. It's so tough selecting when you're skeptical with the horror stories of attorney's not feeling the passion for their work but the money. After long conversations my husband and I decided to go with Ernie to represent our son in a serious case with multiple charges. We were not disappointed at all. Mr. Castillo expertise exceeded our expectations. His was thorough, he kept us up to date on the case, answered all our questions, returned our calls in a timely manner, he's truly a genuine and sincere person. Most of all his knowledge in handling the case was remarkable. I can't express thanks enough to Ernie for the spectacular job he did defending my son who was facing years in jail. He took a stressful situation and relieved it with a positive outcome. I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.”


  • I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.

    “A few years back, Ernie Castillo represented a family member of mine who was charged with a vehicular offense. Although minor compared to the high profile cases Ernie is accustomed to, Ernie took the case with the utmost professionalism and was able to reduce the charge so that my family member's record was not affected. I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.”


  • I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.

    “Mr Castillo represented me on a criminal case in which I was falsely accused in 2012. He took over the case from a previous lawyer who was less aggressive and not actively pursing my defense. Mr Castillo is a confident, aggressive and very persistent lawyer. He kept my family and I up to date on the case and also returned our calls on time. Mr Castillo persuaded me not to take any deal and wanted take the case to trial because he was confident that he would win. With the Lord's guidance and Ernie's aggressiveness my case was dismissed. I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.”