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Hammer O'Justice
Hammer O'Justice, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  9 years legal experience, primarily in criminal justice
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On December 28, 2000 my 20 yr.old son went out-of-town with

Customer Question

On December 28, 2000 my 20 yr.old son went out-of-town with some "friends". My son was charged with an 11357(b)H&S violation & had to appear in court. (The other two boys were arrested & ended up going to prison for a yr.) My son appeared in court but wasn't on the calendar so he asked the clerk & she said that no charges had been filed. Nothing more became of it until just the other day, November 26, 2010, when he received a notice from the Butte County court stating a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Now, back in late 2009 my son went to prison for 9 months on an unrelated charge & everything he had unresolved with the courts, including a traffic ticket, was included at his sentencing. So, my question is what he can do about this & isn't there a statue of limitations? What is your expert advice? Thank you. Respectfully, CJF
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Hammer O'Justice replied 3 years ago.
Hello.

In California, the statute of limitations for misdemeanor marijuana possession is one year. However, the statute of limitations only applies to the time frame in which a case is charged. So as long as the case was charged in a timely manner, it doesn't matter that it took them 10 years to serve the warrant and prosecute the case.

The potential upside is that due to the age of the case, the prosecution may not be able to proceed with the charges. Your son's best bet is to get a lawyer (either hire one or apply for the public defender) to try to get the case dismissed. After 10 years, it is possible that the officers have retired or no longer work for the department, or that the chemist who tested the drugs is gone. And it will also be difficult for them to testify credibly that they remember the case even if they are still around. So there is a strong possibility that a lawyer can convince the prosecutor to drop the charges because the viability of the case has decreased significantly with age.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hiring an attorney is out of the question because my son is currently unemployed. The next problem is that the county where the violation occurred is a little over 3 hours away & he doesn't have the transportation for the drive. Can the case be transferred to the county in which he currently resides? If so, how would he go about doing this? If not, what are his options?

Also, in the first paragraph of your answer you stated "the statute of limitations only applies to the time frame in which a case is charged." Since nothing was ever received after he appeared in court & was told at that time by the court clerk that no charges had been filed how is he to know if the case was charged in a timely manner?

Thank you for your time.

Expert:  Hammer O'Justice replied 3 years ago.
If he can't afford to hire one, he may try applying to the public defender in the county where his case is to see if he qualifies.

The attorney can try to file a change of venue request to have it transferred to his home county, but that is unfortunately unlikely. Change of venue requests are usually only granted where the publicity surrounding a case makes it impossible to have a fair trial in their home jurisdiction. The fact that a defendant is inconvenienced is not really cause to transfer the case to another jurisdiction. But the attorney can try.

In terms of finding out when charges are filed, the court clerk's office should be able to answer that if he calls in with the case number. Their computer system should register when the charges were filed.

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9 years legal experience, primarily in criminal justice