America’s War On Drugs
The “War on Drugs” is alive and well in America today. Police and prosecutors routinely arrest and prosecute persons regardless of whether the person possessed a small recreational amount of illegal drugs or marijuana (generally defined as less than an ounce) or large quantities of illegal drugs or marijuana that are charged as trafficking crimes in state and federal courts. Many persons believe that the police have “moved on” from arresting people for marijuana and illegal drug possession. This is not the case. People are routinely arrested and prosecuted in state and federal courts for possessing, selling, distributing, and trafficking illegal substances and marijuana. The Atlanta drug crimes lawyers at Conaway & Strickler, P.C., are devoted to the best representation of clients facing serious or simple drug charges in both state and federal courts.
Many drug cases involve the police searching a person’s car or home. A person cannot be convicted for the possession of illegal substances if that person is merely present where illegal drugs are found. Nonetheless, when the police search a car or home and there are two or more persons in the car or home, the police may simply arrest everyone at the scene. Hence, in drug cases the police oftentimes choose to arrest everyone in sight and “let the court figure out later” to whom the drugs really belonged. It is easy, therefore, for a person to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and thrown in jail on an illegal drug charge.
Building Your Defense To A Drug Charge
When defending a person accused of the possession of illegal substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, LSD and wrongfully obtained prescription drugs, the key is to challenge the legality of the search and seizure of the drugs and to determine whether there is factual evidence to support the conclusion that the person actually possessed the illegal drugs. Under state and federal law, there are two legal definitions of possession. The first definition is referred to as actual possession, meaning the illegal substance is actually found on the person arrested by the police. The second definition is referred to as constructive possession, meaning the illegal substance is within the arrested person’s control.
In defending drug charges, your attorney should work to determine whether the search and seizure that led to the discovery of the illegal drugs violated your constitutional rights. If the drugs were discovered in a vehicle, your attorney will determine if the officer who stopped the vehicle had cause to do so and, beyond that, whether the police officer had a legal reason to search your car. If the drugs were discovered in a home, your attorney will have to verify that the search was based on a valid search warrant or other probable cause. In cases where the police violate the accused person’s constitutional rights, the court may be forced to throw out the evidence dismissing the case.
Many drug case defenses hinge on getting statements made by the accused person to the police suppressed on the basis that the police overstepped their legal authority when questioning the accused. Police officers will often act aggressively toward persons they suspect of being in possession of illegal drugs in an effort to get the person to talk. There is a fine line between aggressive but perfectly legal police interrogation techniques, and the police illegally obtaining information through threats, promises and coercion. Your defense attorney will have to determine through witnesses, audio and DVD recordings, police reports and other evidence whether any incriminating statements made by you to the police were unconstitutionally obtained and, therefore, should be suppressed by the court.
Another issue is the identity of the alleged illegal substance. Your attorney will want to use forensic investigation to determine whether the government properly tested the alleged illegal substances seized at the time of the person’s arrest. Here there may be evidentiary objections that can get the test results discredited or even thrown out of court altogether leading to the dismissal of the case.
In cases where there is legally obtained evidence that the accused person did possess an illegal substance, developing evidence in mitigation to demonstrate to the court that the person is in need of help and treatment, rather than punishment, can also be very helpful. Evidence in mitigation can be gathered by your attorney to demonstrate to the prosecutor and to the court that you deserve a second chance at living a lawful and drug-free life. In some cases, it is possible to have the drug charge dismissed and the arrest expunged by court order on the basis of evidence in mitigation. Thus, both evidence in mitigation and factual defenses are keys to winning these cases.
If you are facing a “target letter,” if the federal authorities have seized any of your property or records, or if you are facing an indictment, you need help now. The government has focused a good deal of their attention on “over prescribing” cases in recent years. The problem is you do not want your bank accounts seized, effectively shutting down your business, when the government really does not have a solid case. At issue in cases involving doctors is that the government must prove that prescriptions were written “not for a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice.” This type of cases is heavily reliant on expert testimony. Conaway & Strickler, P.C., knows which experts to use to effectively combat your case at trial.
If you or a family member or friend has been accused of a drug crime, the Atlanta drug crimes lawyers at Conaway & Strickler, P.C., are here to work with you. Our goal is to clear your name and restore your freedom. We look forward to sitting down with you to discuss your case.
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