the State Bar of California
the San Diego Union-Tribune
The Press-Enterprise

Drug Crimes

Despite what you may have heard about the “decriminalization” of many drug-related offenses in California, it is important to understand that these crimes are still being actively investigated by law enforcement and widely prosecuted throughout the state, especially within Riverside County. Criminal conduct in drug-related cases can vary widely and includes everything from simple possession of a small quantity of narcotics, to transportation of drugs, cultivation, manufacturing, and possession of drugs for the purpose of sales.

Successful prosecution of narcotics related offenses depends heavily upon the observations and actions of the investigating law enforcement agents. The outcomes in many drug-related cases hinge heavily upon whether law enforcement agents complied with applicable search and seizure law under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution during their investigation. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels. This means that the police need to obtain a valid search warrant from a judge prior to searching your person or property, unless you consent to the search, or another valid and legally recognized exception to the search warrant requirement exists.

If evidence was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, a skilled attorney will be able to quickly identify the issue and file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence pursuant to Penal Code section 1538.5. If the motion is granted, this means the court agrees that the evidence was illegally obtained and as such, it is excluded from consideration. In many cases, a favorable ruling for the defense in a 1538.5 motion can be completely dispositive of the entire case. If the prosecution can no longer prove their case due to the exclusion of evidence necessary to establish all elements of the crime by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, your case should be dismissed entirely. Even in cases where a 1538.5 motion is not entirely dispositive, winning the motion can still be a huge benefit in the negotiation process, and could likely result in a more favorable outcome in your case.

Another consideration to be mindful of is law enforcement’s heavy reliance upon the use of confidential informants during narcotics-related investigations. Confidential informants are individuals who covertly supply information about suspected criminal activity to law enforcement personnel with the expectation that they will receive some sort of benefit in exchange for the information they provide. Benefits can include monetary compensation, but in many cases, confidential informants are providing information to police in hopes that they will receive more lenient treatment regarding their own criminal case(s).

Information obtained from confidential informants can be quite valuable to law enforcement in narcotics investigations, as police officers will frequently use information provided by informants in order to apply for search warrants that allow them to deepen the nature and scope of their investigations. However, a skilled defense attorney knows that in many instances, the use of confidential informants in drug-related investigations can be a risky proposition, fraught with ethical and legal dilemmas. Because many informants are also facing criminal charges themselves, they have a strong incentive to talk to the police if they think it might be beneficial to the outcome in their own cases in the future. In some instances, this motivation to “help themselves” may taint the quality and/or accuracy of the information they provide to police. In other words, the confidential informants themselves and the information they provide may not be reliable. As such, it may be necessary to file a motion to disclose the identity of a confidential informant in some instances, and/or challenge the issuance of the search warrant altogether.

Narcotics investigations and drug-related prosecutions bring forth some highly technical and extremely important legal concepts that are best identified and addressed early on by a qualified and experienced attorney. These cases require intense scrutiny by a skilled lawyer who knows how to quickly spot the issues and act accordingly. As a former prosecutor at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, California for the better part of fifteen years, Ms. Baldwin has worked hard to establish her reputation as a trusted, knowledgeable and effective advocate and looks forward to the privilege of putting her skills and experience to work of you, regardless of how minor or serious your drug charges may be.

If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with a drug crime, understand that it is completely normal to feel anxious, confused, and lost. Being arrested and charged for any criminal offense can be a completely terrifying and emotional experience. It doesn’t help that many of the laws and potential consequences pertaining to narcotics-related offenses seem to be constantly influx and evolving, especially in California. At the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC, we believe everyone deserves competent, vigorous, and compassionate legal representation. When you hire us, you can rest assured knowing that we are committed to keeping you fully informed and working strategically to plan, prepare, and develop your defense in order to secure the best possible outcome for you.

If you have already been charged, or anticipate being charged, with any drug related criminal offenses in the Murrieta area, contact the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free, confidential case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.

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"This has been the first time in my life that I was ever in need of legal representation. Julie took my worries and was able to make me feel at ease with the process, knowing what to expect, and potential outcomes. She handled my legal matter with confidence, charisma, and tenacity. She is both highly driven, and a skillful negotiator. She took what would otherwise be an incredibly stressful experience, and made it palatable. Thank you, Julie Baldwin." R.
"In May of 2021, I was arrested for a domestic related crime and immediately contacted criminal defense attorney, Julie Baldwin, for help. Julie reviewed every aspect of my case and developed an aggressive defense strategy. Her years of experience as a deputy district attorney and assertiveness gave me confidence in facing my charge which was ultimately dismissed by the district attorney's office. I highly recommend Julie Baldwin to anyone facing criminal charges and in need of legal assistance." WC
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