Drug charges are the most common reason to be arrested in the United States, with over 1.5 million arrests made in 2013, according to FBI statistics.
If you've been charged with a drug offense, it's important to obtain legal representation. A lawyer with experience in drug cases can represent you in court and may be able to get the charges against you dismissed or reduced.
The following are some issues your lawyer may be able to address:
1. Was any evidence legally gathered?
Do the police say that they found drugs on you or on your property? If so, a lawyer can examine the circumstances of how police obtained the evidence. Was the search legal? If you were stopped while driving, was the reason to pull you over legally sufficient? If your home was searched, did police obtain a valid search warrant supported by probable cause?
Even if drugs were found, a lawyer may be able to get the evidence thrown out by proving that the search was illegal.
2. Did you make a confession or statement that was illegally obtained?
You've probably seen the Miranda warning given on countless TV shows. ("You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…") This warning must be given to you if you're being arrested. As part of this legal requirement, police must also let you contact a lawyer if you requested to do so.
In addition, any statement you've given must not be as a result of being threatened or mistreated.
3. What amount of drugs are you accused of having?
Even if none of the above scenarios apply, your lawyer may be able to challenge the amount of drugs the police say they found. This affects the exact crime you're charged with and any potential penalties such as the amount of fines or length of jail time.
It could also mean the difference between a charge of possession and one of intent to distribute – a more serious offense.
4. Did you have possession of the drugs?
Were your driving someone else's car when drugs were found in it? Or were drugs found in your apartment that you share with your roommate?
Your lawyer may be able to argue that you didn't have control of the drugs that were seized.
5. Are you first-time offender?
If your lawyer can't get the charges against you dismissed, he or she may be able to have them reduced to a lesser charge, especially if you have a record that's otherwise clean.
And if you're a first-time offender, many states have diversionary programs that can ultimately help you get the charges dismissed. These programs place certain conditions on you, such as remaining arrest- and drug-free for a year. You may also have to undergo drug counseling. If you successfully comply with the conditions of the program, the case will return to court, and the charges against you will be dismissed.
Contact an attorney with experience in drug cases if you're facing such a charge. Your employment and freedom may be at risk, and you're entitled to have an attorney represent you in the face of these serious consequences. Contact a firm like Kassel & Kassel A Group of Independent Law Offices for more information.