During the July 4th weekend in 2019, 81 people were arrested for DUIs in San Diego County. While most people realize that it’s illegal to drive while under the influence, few realize that it’s against the law to be under the influence of drugs in California. If the police find you and believe you are on illegal drugs, they can arrest you. In some cases, you may be arrested for being under the influence of legal prescription drugs.
Your charges can have a profound impact on your life. If you’ve been arrested, you should hire a San Diego lawyer who defends under the influence of drugs cases. The Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC has experience with under the influence charges and wants to represent you.
Under the Influence Laws in California
The California Health and Safety Code has many laws involving illegal drug use. According to the code, it’s against the law for someone to be under the influence of illegal drugs. Even though you’re on a controlled drug with a prescription, you could still experience legal trouble. If you don’t have a prescription in your name for the drug or you took a larger dose than the prescribed amount, you will face consequences.
For the charges to stick, there must be evidence that the defendant willingly used the drug or was willingly under the influence of the drug. If there’s evidence that someone hid the drug in your drink or otherwise tricked you into taking it, you will be able to fight the charges.
The Burden of Proof
To successfully convict you, the prosecutor needs to show that you used or were under the influence of drugs. Generally, the prosecutor’s case depends on the testimony of a drug recognition officer, or DRE. They have special training that allows them to identify when someone is under the influence of drugs.
A DRE will examine your pupil size, check your pulse, and look for marks from injection sites. In court, the DRE will testify. If they suspect drug use, they’ll tell the court. But they may also testify that the defendant may have been sick or had a physiological condition.
In some cases, the evidence of drug use comes from a drug test. The DRE or a police officer could ask you to take a blood test. When the test is positive, the prosecutor can use the results against you. However, the test needs to have been done at the time of the arrest. If it’s done long after the arrest, the results could be irrelevant.
Drug use alone isn’t enough for a conviction to stick. It’s also essential for the prosecutor to prove that you used the drug shortly before your arrest. For example, marijuana can stay in your system for weeks. There must be evidence that you used marijuana in the recent past, or a positive drug test means nothing.
What Are the Penalties for Being Under the Influence?
In California, a conviction for being under the influence is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, you must serve a minimum of 90 days in jail or a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
A conviction could also leave you on probation for a period as long as five years. The court might require you to participate in drug counseling and to pay fines. Depending on your situation, you may be able to replace jail time with a drug diversion program.
How to Fight Your Charges
The first step to fighting your charges is to hire an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney. They have an in-depth understanding of California drug laws and know how to defend your charges.
After asking you about your case, your lawyer will craft a defense strategy. As with all criminal charges, under the influence charges can be defended in multiple ways. It’s up to your attorney to determine which method will have the best results.
For instance, your lawyer could argue against the testimony of the DRE. By hiring an expert witness to testify, they can show that your behavior at the time of the arrest could have been due to sickness or a physiological condition.
Another option is for your lawyer to argue that you didn’t willfully take the drug. In today’s dangerous world, drugs can be slipped into drinks or food. By showing that this was a remote possibility, your lawyer may create doubt. Even a shred of doubt could be enough for you to receive an innocent verdict.
Your San Diego Under the Influence of Drugs Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a crime, you need help. It takes an experienced lawyer to argue with an aggressive prosecutor. The Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC has what it takes to get you results. Give us a call to learn more about our firm.