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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in drug crimes

b2ap3_thumbnail_drug-crimes-defense.jpgDrug charges carry serious consequences, no matter who you are. If you are an immigrant, drug charges can have even more dire effects, potentially resulting in deportation or the revocation of papers or work permits. This is true even even if you are a permanent legal resident, depending on the severity of the charge. If you are charged with a trafficking aggravated felony or an offense involving a controlled substance, for example, you may be subject to deportation.

Risk of Deportation

In general, however, if you are not a legal permanent resident, you can potentially be deported regardless of the severity of the drug charge. Any type of drug charge—or other criminal behavior—can be considered grounds for deportation and the revocation of immigration status and papers. For example, if you are convicted of any type of an offense of a federally-scheduled drug; if you are convicted of a possession-only charge; if you are convicted of possession with intent to sell; or if you are convicted of the sale of distribution of a drug; you are eligible for deportation, regardless of your legal immigration status.

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drug crimes, San Jose criminal defense attorneyIf you are arrested for having drugs in your possession, you could be facing serious consequences. Drug possession is legally known as possession of a controlled substance. The exact penalties will vary depending on the type and amount of the drug you are accused of possessing. There are many different defenses to a charge of the possession of a controlled substance, depending on the circumstances. Your case may involve the use of one or more such strategies, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you decide the best way to proceed.

Challenging the Stop

Often drugs are found when you have been stopped by a police officer, either in your car or while you are on foot. There are specific rules that police officers must follow before they are allowed to search you or your property.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Legalized-Marijuana_20151028-174830_1.jpgCurrently, the state of California only permits legal use of marijuana for medical purposes. All other uses are currently considered drug crimes. But backers like The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform are making serious progress in their ReformCA movement, and they hope to have the initiative in front of voters on the November 2016 election ballot. But is it really possible for California to join the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Colorado in the legalization of recreational marijuana?

The Cost of Legalizing Marijuana in California

Before marijuana legalization can go before voters, language for the proposition must be written. According to the Coalition, the first round should circulate within “days.” From there, the language will be edited and then circulated again to reflect any changes. Signatures will then need to be collected in order to get the proposition on a ballot. LA Weekly estimated it could take more than three million dollars in paid signature gatherer wages, just to make sure they get enough. But even then, they will have to overcome the stigmas and concerns of voters before the bill can pass.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_drug-crimes-and-deportation.jpgWith election season in full swing, the issue of immigration and drug crimes has become front and center in American discourse. The debate surrounding immigration issues and drug crimes are not only for presidential candidates, however. In early September, California state legislature passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee two law proposals that would bridge the gap between California state law and federal law. In short, the bills assert that the state should allow immigrants charged with drug possession the same opportunities provided U.S. citizens — that they should be equally entitled to drug treatment programs rather than prison and eventual deportation.

California already has a program enacted that sets it apart when considering treatment of immigrants charged with drug crimes. This is known as Deferred Entry of Judgment, and it allows for any person charged with drug crimes to plead guilty, enter the program, and subsequently have the charges dismissed and his or her legal record wiped clean. Because, however, people must first plead guilty to qualify for this program, federal law could trigger deportation for these people—even if they are documented immigrants but not full citizens (green card residents).

These laws attempt to mitigate risk of deportation for immigrants charged with drug crimes. In recent years, deportation of non-citizens (even documented) has increased 43 percent between 2007 and 2012. This holds true for people charged with drug crimes who have no prior record, and for those who were charged with the crime sometimes decades in the past. Even if a person’s charge ultimately resulted in no prison time, he is still at risk for deportation.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Prop-47.jpgLate last year when California changed its drug laws and introduced Prop 47, it drastically altered the landscape of drug crimes in the state. Six months after the passage of Prop 47, drug rehabilitation and the law’s effect on jail time has had mixed results. Narcotic arrests have dropped by 30 percent in Los Angeles and by 48 percent in rural areas patrolled by the LA County Sheriff’s Department, for example. Yet property crimes, such as burglary and theft, have risen since the passage of the law, meaning that the arrest numbers may be somewhat skewed.

According to the state government’s general election voter guide, Prop 47 intended to reduce the state’s budget for prison-related expenditures. This money was then re-allocated for programs meant to prevent truancy and school dropouts, and intended to help victims of crimes, mental health and abuse treatment programs, and other programs intended to keep would-be offenders out of jail.

Not only did the passage of Prop 47 work as a way to keep offenders out of jail, it will also release thousands of people who were jailed for a felony that has now been reduced to a misdemeanor. These people are eligible for immediate release from prison. While there are no statistics to directly support this, this could be one reason for the increased rates of other sometimes drug-related crimes. This could be one reason why that in February of this year, the state added an addendum to the proposition that disqualified out-of-state and juvenile adjudications as disqualifying convictions, however. It also stated that misdemeanors, in some cases, could not be considered as such retroactively.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_drug-crimes.jpgThere are more immigrants in California than in any other state, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. This comes out to more than 10 million immigrants in this state alone, meaning that one in four of the nation’s population that was born outside of the U.S. resides in California. While these numbers primarily refer to people who are living legally in the country, it is no secret that California is also home to thousands of immigrants who are illegal, who have not received permanent residency status or a green card. While this makes the state one of the most diverse, it can also mean it is one of the most divided when it comes to policy and policing. One of the most recent of these rulings to be considered by state legislators is one that would allow illegal immigrants to plead guilty to minor drug charges without fear of deportation that such an act would usually trigger.

Minor drug charges are often dismissed if a person pleads guilty and undergoes drug counseling. If, however, the charge is brought against a person living illegally in the country, such proceedings could trigger deportation. The new bill currently being debated by state officials would allow illegal immigrants to plead guilty to such charges and undergo counseling, without fear of deportation.

In 2013, fewer than 3 percent of federal criminal charges went to trial, in large part due to the acceptance of plea bargains. While plea bargains proved to largely be a good option for minor drug charges, there were unexpected consequences to their rise in popularity: the so-called “Rockefeller Laws” implemented in New York were one such example, in which punishments for minor drug infractions increased sharply to combat the rise of plea bargains.

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