The cultural attitude about drug use has certainly shifted in the last few decades. Generally speaking, individuals, the medical community and the media are no longer as judgmental and hostile toward those with substance abuse disorders as they once were. Increased cultural understanding of how people develop addictions and how hard it can be to overcome the mental health roots of substance abuse disorders has helped to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and improve access to treatment and other forms of support.
However, the state still criminalizes drug possession. Individuals who possess, manufacture or transfer certain substances are likely to face criminal charges if they get caught. Even if most nonviolent drug offenses don’t carry the same stigma as they would in previous years, they can still result in incarceration and can affect someone’s employment and educational opportunities after a defendant has paid their debt to society.
How can someone who has recently been arrested for a drug offense in California avoid a life-altering criminal record?
1. They can assertively defend against the accusations
There are many ways for people to respond to drug charges to prevent a conviction, from proving that what police found in their vehicle belonged to someone else to raising questions about the legality of a search. Those who can convince a jury to exonerate them or a judge to dismiss the case against them won’t have to worry about the lasting limitations generated by a criminal record.
2. They ask to have their case heard in drug court
In scenarios where challenging the evidence isn’t likely a viable strategy and where the offense relates to a substance abuse disorder, it may be possible to have the case heard in the California drug courts. The drug courts prioritize treatment and oversight rather than punishment for those accused of drug-related offenses.
If someone successfully completes all of the requirements established in a drug court case, they make potentially avoid a criminal record. Although drug court does require many meetings with court professionals and diligent attempts to achieve sobriety, the effort is often a worthwhile investment because it helps people avoid criminal penalties and a criminal record.
Seeking legal guidance in order to explore ways to minimize the negative effects of California drug charges can help people who are worried about how a potential conviction might permanently shape their future.