San Diego Criminal Defense

101 W. Broadway, Suite 1770 | San Diego, CA 92101

This site is for information only. Use of this website does not create an attorney client relationship. This site is not legal advice. Legal advice is specific direction related to the unique circumstances of your legal issue. This website is not a substitute for a consultation with a California licensed criminal defense attorney. We invite you to contact us with any legal or criminal defense question you might have. 


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San Diego Criminal Lawyer

California Drug Crimes

Explained by a San Diego Criminal Lawyer


Drug and alcohol crimes are among the most commonly charged crimes in America's finest city. Unfortunately our law enforcement is a bit overzealous when it comes to prosecuting drug laws. Police frequently make illegal searches and arrests, and such sloppiness is how an experienced San Diego drug defense lawyer may win your case. Whether you're a resident or a tourist, you need an experienced San Diego criminal lawyer to handle a drug or alcohol criminal charge. Only a San Diego criminal lawyer understands how it is possible to get your drug or alcohol charge reduced or dismissed. Even if you have a conviction for a drug crime on your record, it is possible to get your case dismissed. 



San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Nicholas Moore

Nicholas J. Moore

SuperLawyers "Rising Star"
2016 & 2017 Award Winner - Criminal Defense
San Diego Criminal Lawyer
Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Lawyer


Patients, providers and people who work in the medical marijuana industry understand that even though the state of California has made allowances for possession, sale and distribution of marijuana - that there are still many legal pitfalls . An experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer who has handled medical marijuana related cases is your best ally when the police are harassing you. 


Despite California's medical marijuana status, federal law enforcement agencies have been known to routinely harass patients, providers and their employees. Call a San Diego medical marijuana attorney immediately if this harassment is happening to you. 


Prescription drug crimes are frequently charged as more serious than they actually are. For example, when travelling with prescription drugs, many people do not feel comfortable bringing the entire pill bottle - and so they may bring their pills in a plastic bag or some other container. Unsophisticated law enforcement officers will often make arrests and recommended charges of possession with intent to sell based on this fact alone. An experienced San Diego drug attorney will know the best way to defend your case, without breaking your bank. 


Driving Under the Influence

California Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC

California Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC

A DUI charge can have lasting consequences, from restriction on motor vehicle usage to jail time, an experienced San Diego DUI lawyer will be able to provide you with the zealous representation that you need. 



Drunk in Public

California Penal Code 674(f) PC


If you're visiting San Diego, or even if your a resident, you're likely to enjoy some of San Diego's internationally famous beer.  Drunk in public is a real charge, with real consequences, and while they are rare, they happen from time to time. An experienced San Diego criminal lawyer can help you avoid the hangover that comes with a drunk in public charge. 

Click here to learn how a California DUI Lawyer can beat your charge.


The punishment for a misdemeanor, first time DUI conviction, without bodily injury or death resulting from the DUI will still vary depending on the specific facts of your case, however you may expect penalties within the following range:

  • $390 fine plus over $1,000 in ordinary penalty assessments, plus additional DUI-only assessments for a total of approxi­mately $1,800.

  • 48-hour in custody [jail] sentence OR a 90-day license restriction allowing (allowing driving only to or from work)—if required, and to and from an alcohol treatment program. If the 90-day restriction is imposed, it begins after your DMV four-month suspension or 30-day suspension followed by a five-month restriction.

  • Attendance and completion of a $500, 3-month treatment program.  If your blood alcohol was above a .20 or higher, then the program length is 9 months. You must complete the program to drive again. 

  • You will lose your driver’s license for at least 30 days. You will the have either a five-month restriction to drive to, from, and only for work as well as to and from an alcohol treatment program, or an additional two-month restriction that allows you to drive only to and from the program.


The maximum penalties for a misdemeanor first DUI conviction in California is a $1,000 fine plus over $2,600 in penalty ­assessments, six months’ imprisonment in the county jail, a six-month license suspension ; ten months for blood alcohol level of 0.15% or more, having your vehicle “impounded” (stored at your expense) for 30 days, and being required to attach an “interlock” breath device to your vehicle that will not allow the car to start if there is any alcohol on your breath. This will cost you about $800.


*NOTE: This is the maximum penalty.  Many first time offenders are able to reduce their charges with a plea, and some DUI cases can be successfully challenged and dismissed.  


To learn how to beat a DUI charge - CLICK HERE


Possession of a Controlled Substance

California Health & Saftey Code 11350 HS


Possession of a prescription drug that is not in a prescription bottle with your name on it is the most common example of Possession of a Controlled Substance in San Diego. Prescription drugs are ubiquitous, and the war on drugs has shifted focus from traditional controlled substances to those manufactured by our pharmaceutical companies.



Due to the passage of Proposition 47, most possession of controlled substance crimes are now misdemeanors by default (some used to be felonies). Consequently these cases are now handled by the City Attorney's office, and most offenders are eligible for Prop 36 or PC 1000 diversion programs. This includes charges for possession of marijuana (without a doctors recommendation), possession of cocaine, possession of heroin, possession of GHB, and many other controlled substances. 


Call a San Diego criminal lawyer today if you have been arrested or charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. 


Possession of Concetrated Cannabis

Health & Safety Code 11357(a) HS


Under California Marijuana laws, individuals who are entitled to possession medical marijuana may posses concentrated canibas (also known as hash, wax, or oil) for their personal use only. Possession of concentrated cannabis with the intent to sell is punishable as a felony and may land you upwards of 3 years - even if you have a valid prescription. It is very common for concentrate cannabis to be in oil form - and in individualized cartridges. The presence of multiple catridges could be used by the government to show that you intend to distribute the concentrated cannabis. 


Possession with Intent to Sell/Distribute

Health & Safety Code 11351 HS


Whether the controlled substance is street drugs or prescription drugs, possession with intent to sell or distribute narcotics is a serious crime with serious consequences depending on the type and quanity of drugs, and the presence of circrumstantial evidence of intent to distribute such as baggies, packaging, scales, and large quantities of cash. 


If you are even suspecting the potential for a possession with intent to sell or distribute charge, call an experienced San Diego drug defense lawyer and think of it as insurance. Drug charges may be brought at the state or federal level. One client, stopped in possession of mandatory minimum sentencing quantities of a controlled substance, walked free with a simple traffic ticket. 


Transportation of a Controlled Substance

Health & Safety Code 11352 HS


The transporting of drugs often involve vehicles, and therefore there are 4th amednment concerns on how the police may discover the transported substance. However, transportation of a controlled substance does not necessarily have to include a personal vehicle. An experienced San Diego drug lawyer knows how to challenge, pre-trial evidence discovered as a result of an unlawful search and seizure. Transportation charges carry significant jail time, so it is important to hire an experienced San Diego drug defense lawyer immediately. Do not talk to the police, they will not help you. Only an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney understands how to best discharge your case. 

Drug Use Crimes

Health & Safety Code 11550 HS


Yes, you can be arrested and charged with a crime for being high on a controlled substance such as: meth, heroin, ecstasy, GHB, cocaine, and even cannabis under certain situations. You could also be charged criminally if you are under the influence of prescription narcotics to which you do not have a valid prescription. One of the elements of the crime that prosecutors have to prove is that you took the drug willfully - which means that if you did not voluntarily take the drug (if somebody dosed you) then you cannot be convicted under Health & Safety Code 11550. Most people charged with a violation of HS 11550 usually qualify for Prop 36 or PC 1000 diversion programs. 


Drug Manufacturing

Health & Safety Code 11379.6 HS


These days a teenager with a chemistry set can create some incredibly powerful narcotics. Drug manufacturing is a life-ruining charge with a very long prison sentence. You can be charged and convicted of manufacturing drugs even if you did not successfully complete the manufacturing. A charge under HS 11379.6 is most commonly brought for those caught operating a meth lab or with precursors for making drugs, however something as small as having a magic mushroom terrarium or an illegal cannabis grow operation can also lead to drug manufacturing charges under HS 11379.6. Usually evidence of these charges is the result of an illegal search and seizure. An experienced San Diego drug defense lawyer can suppress evidence seized as a result of an illegal search.