Drug offences continue to plague America, but some such offences can be reversed if the right legal tactics and lawyers are used
Among the many sobering facts about the disturbing growth in drug offending is the fact that over 20 per cent of those sentenced in state prisons and local jails are there for crimes committed to obtain drugs or money for drugs and there are over 1 million drug possession arrests in America every year.
A Bureau of Justice report released in 2017 showed that nearly 40 per cent of those jailed for property crimes and 14 per cent of those incarcerated for violent crimes reported that they had committed their most serious offense for drug-related reasons. If these figures hold for the entire prison and jail population, that means over 473,000 people are behind bars for seeking drugs.
It is obvious that legal assistance with drug offending should be immediate in most cases. The laws and statistics regarding drug possession vary from State to State and as lawyers involved in Dayton, for instance, saw a slight decline in recently reported drug crime cases in 2020 following a steady increase in felony drug cases over the past few years.
In 2020, Dayton police made 817 arrests in connection to drug possession and 49 arrests in connection to drug trafficking. That’s less than in 2019, when officers made 60 trafficking arrests and 956 possession arrests. However, the results are largely due to the pandemic and experts say that drug use has not altered.
The high level of drug use and drug-fuelled crime means that those arrested anywhere, should be seeking legal assistance from an attorney who is experienced and familiar with the local drug laws and courts.
of sentenced people in state prisons and local jails are incarcerated for crimes committed to obtain drugs or money for drugs. Almost 40% of people locked up for property crimes and 14% of those incarcerated for violent crimes reported that they had committed their most serious offense for drug-related reasons.
A Dayton criminal defense lawyer like a good criminal defense lawyer anywhere can help the accused develop a strategy to get to the process of dismissal for drug offences.
Dismissal means the charges against them are being dropped and there are some specific steps that those charged with drug offences can take with legal assistance.
Anyone charged with trafficking in bringing drugs from one municipality to the next can have charges dropped if properly prepared and presented.
What Procedures Are Involved in Having Drug Charges Dropped
There are several opportunities to have drug charges dismissed. Among the steps –
==> How was the evidence obtained?
Looking at how the evidence was obtained means looking at a variety of factors, including the reason the police stopped the offender (whether there was probable cause), whether there was a valid search warrant. Many such cases involve officers who simply ‘ask’ to search a potential offender, implying that they have no choice.
Further, under the terms of the 4th amendment, all Americans have certain rights. This includes the right to be free from any kind of unreasonable search of your home or your property. It also includes the right to avoid having your property seized without recourse.
==> The ‘Constructive Possession’ argument
Many cases also suffer from weaknesses in establishing “constructive possession.” This is when something is deemed to be in your possession because of the circumstances, even though it may not actually be yours. For example, if you borrow a friend’s car to get some groceries and, upon being pulled over for speeding, the officer comes up with a reason to search and discovers a small amount of marijuana in the center console. Are those drugs yours or do they belong to the owner of the car? This creates a cloud on proof of possession beyond a reasonable doubt that a savvy defendant can exploit to his advantage.
==> The Illegal Search argument
All police officers must be prepared to respect your rights when they are gathering evidence that might be used to incriminate you in some way. For example, if a police officer did not have a warrant to search your home, this means the evidence they obtained during the search cannot be used against you when brought to a court of law. It means the entire case has to be thrown out.
==> The ‘Ownership’ argument
It is not enough for you to have drugs on your person. The district attorney also needs to prove that you are the owner of the drugs. For example, if you borrowed a neighbor’s car you might have no idea the neighbor was hiding drugs in the trunk. The district attorney needs to demonstrate that the drugs were yours and you didn’t know they were there.
They must be able to prove that you were the one who truly possessed the drugs in question. This can be hard for them to prove. The attorney can help provide evidence that you didn’t know about these drugs before you borrowed the car. In that case, they must agree to dismiss the charges because they have no evidence against you.
==> The Identification argument
Proving the the substance is actually a drug is another defense. Having a bottle of spices for a cooking class, for instance, is a mistake that will have the charge dismissed. Challenging lab reports as to the drug’s identification is a key ingredient to successfully reversing drug offences as a controlled substance. Objecting to the identification of the substance will not only leave that matter at issue for trial requiring the prosecutor to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, which creates further issues for the prosecutors, but also requires expertise and money in providing such proof. Having lab technicians provide evidence is expensive for the prosecution and can lead to chain-of-evidence and other faults in the defense of the drug charges that is sufficient to have them withdrawn or dismissed.
==> First Time Offenders
Even if you are found guilty of drug charges, there are ways that it is possible to reverse these charges. For example, there is a process known as diversion, which means that you are diverted out of the criminal justice system. Rather than being charged with a crime, you are asked to complete a diversion program that might include attending a drug treatment center instead of being sent to jail. This means you agree to go to treatment. You will not have a criminal charge on your record if you successfully complete the program. This option can also be available to someone who might have engaged in treatment before but can present evidence they can do better this time.
You can also agree to be placed on probation. If you meet the terms of probation and have no further violations, your attorney can ask for what is known as an expungement. This means that your case is considered fully dismissed. It will allow you to move past the issue and get on with your life with no legal following when you apply for a job.
The Process of Dismissing Drugs Charges
Clearly there are numerous potential defenses to drug offences, all of which require some degree of expertise and experience from your attorney. The fact is that the Court dockets are overwhelmed by a variety of criminal offending charges and to have an attorney who treats your drug charge seriously and with a degree of intensity can ensure there are equal pressures placed upon the overworked prosecutors. A degree of ‘waring down’ the prosecutor with a competent defense can result in the dismissal of a drug offence.
The often complex and time-consuming involvement in drug charge defense is something that warrants the attention of an experienced defense attorney who is aware of the various options for those in the invidious position of facing drugs charges.
Source: Richard Lipowicz, Attorney at Law, Dayton Ohio