Although most forms of simple drug use and possession are now misdemeanors in California, if the prosecutor has evidence that you possessed illegal drugs or controlled substances with an intent to sell, they will charge you with a felony that carries with it more significant consequences like jail, a felony probation, or potentially state prison time. In addition, prosecutors will often file motions to require an in-custody defendant on a drug sales charge to prove that their source of bail funds is legitimate and not related to any illegal sales activity before they can post bail and get out of custody.
The evidence in a possession for sales case can come from confidential informants, statements from co-conspirators, circumstantial evidence (like scales, baggies, and large amounts of cash), supposed admissions by the defendant, wiretaps, and sting operations. In most cases of possession for sales, the goal of a skilled defense attorney is to create reasonable doubt as to what the evidence really shows, and depending on the type of evidence, the strategy for finding that reasonable doubt will differ.
Although felonies carry with them significantly worse consequences for defendants who are convicted, unlike misdemeanor charges, all felonies require the prosecutor to justify their case to a judge at a preliminary hearing before they can bring the case to a jury. If a prosecutor cannot establish through live witness testimony from the investigating officer that there is probable cause to hold the defendant over for trial, a judge will dismiss the felony charge following the preliminary hearing.
Because felony charges require this extra step, this gives defendants the opportunity to cross-examine and challenge the testimony of the investigating officer outside the presence of the jury much like civil lawyers do in a deposition. In addition, even when judges do not dismiss cases following a preliminary hearing, prosecutors will often reduce or dismiss the charges if they feel the case has been significantly weakened by the defense attorney’s skillful cross-examination.
Because preliminary hearings can make or break a drug sales case, prosecutors will often dangle offers that expire once the preliminary hearing is finished. This makes it all the more crucial that a defense attorney undertake this step of the process with caution and strategy. If you have been charged with a felony charge of possession for sales, you need an experienced defense attorney that knows how to navigate every step of the process from “source of funds” hearings to preliminary examinations and trial. Call Mr. Ganschow today for a free consultation. Collect calls accepted.