In California, as well as elsewhere, a search warrant should be obtained by the police prior to the search of a private residence. When that is done and the search finds contraband resulting in an arrest, criminal defense counsel should review the warrant and the circumstances surrounding its approval. This is necessary to make sure that the warrant was issued for the proper reasons and that it was justified based on the facts the authorities knew at the time. If the warrant was no good, then the charges for the drug crime will likely not survive.
In Santa Cruz County, two men were recently arrested on heroin and methamphetamine charges. The police obtained search warrants for their respective homes. Authorities say they found 1.2 pound of heroin worth over $20,000 street value, 1.25 ounces of methamphetamine and over $5,000 in cash. The men were described as "high level narcotic traffickers" in Santa Cruz County. It is not clear from the reports whether the two men acted together in a drug conspiracy with each other or, if so, the extent of that conspiracy.
After reviewing the propriety of the warrants obtained in these cases, criminal defense counsel will also look at the way in which the search was conducted to ensure that violations to appropriate police protocol did not occur. The warrant is supposed to state, with some particularity, the items being sought, and the search should remain reasonably confined within those parameters. Furthermore, ownership of the contraband and the possible involvement of others with access to the residence should be investigated.
Thus, criminal defense counsel's focus is on learning all of the facts and deciding whether any viable defenses under California law to the drug crime charges are apparent. In some cases in which the evidence is overwhelming, counsel may recommend plea negotiations and early cooperation with the police. This could include naming others involved in the drug crime or a conspiracy regarding the drugs. The defendant's sentence can sometimes be reduced dramatically by the use of this defense technique. However, this is a risky and sometimes hazardous road, and it should not be traversed without the informed and experienced guidance and control of seasoned defense counsel.
Source: santacruzsentinel.com, "Suspected drug dealers arrested in Aptos, Castroville", Stephen Baxter, March 10, 2015