It’s crucial because these are felony level charges and a felony conviction can put you in prison for zero to life. If you have the right kind of distribution charge in a drug-free zone, the statute says they can put you in prison for the rest of your life. In most cases that does not happen, but that’s the maximum. That’s the worst possible outcome that could be imposed. The fines are higher. You become a restricted person, meaning you can’t carry a weapon, firearms or ammunition, and you can’t vote. You’ll have a hard time getting a job.
A felony conviction for drugs stays on your record until you get the case resolved. People call me all the time about how they got into trouble when they were younger. They have these felonies on their record and twenty years later, they’re saying, “I’ve got this good job opportunity. I’ve got to get this taken off my record. What can you do for me?” It’s better to hire an attorney right off the bat and get the best possible outcome. Get those felonies reduced if you can or beat the case at trial so you don’t have to live with this conviction on your record and have all the relevant disadvantages.
Are Prescription Drug Cases Handled like Hard Drug Cases, such as Cocaine?
As far as the defenses for drug charges, one of the first questions to ask is why were the police there? Are they searching your person? Are they searching your car? Are they searching your home? How did they get there? The next thing is: why did they search? Did they have a warrant and probable cause? I would be looking at that information as well as what the quantity was. How much of what kind of substance that we dealing with; how much cocaine or meth? If they have a certain amount, they could be possibly facing distribution charges.
It comes down to what the substance really is, and that information would come from the lab. The state or forensic lab is where they take the controlled substance and analyze it to get us the reports. With prescription drugs, we generally don’t go that far because a lot of prescription medications have the name on them or they’re a certain size or a certain color. The prescription cases don’t go to the lab for that reason. If we demand it, that means we think it is something other than what the prosecution believes it is.
If I Was Offered to Be an Informant, Would That Help My Case?
I have had a couple of cases where the client told me that so and so approached me and is the detective of the investigators and the narcotics agents. They ask the client to do some buys, some controlled buys acting as a confidential informant to help the agents get a bust or 2 or 3 busts. I don’t necessarily agree with that. Often when the agents have gotten a lot of information, gotten a lot of controlled buys, in the end they haven’t really helped the client.
On the other hand I have seen once or twice where the agents have come through and made a call to the prosecutor. It can, in some circumstances, help the client, but I would caution against it. If you are going to do it, try to work through an attorney to make sure that you’re not being taken advantage of. Make sure if you do the work as requested by the agent that you do get what you were promised.
Is an attorney more beneficial to a drug charge than a public defender?
There are a lot of good defenders. They are good lawyers, they know what’s going on in their court and the biggest thing that I can say is that they are busy. They have a lot of different cases; they’re pretty much handling everything. As an attorney I have focused my practice on dealing with controlled substances.
I spend all of my training that I am required to do dealing with controlled substances and dealing with the legal issues related to controlled substances. As a result I have more experience in those types of cases and often can come up with a better resolution or better defenses to deal with those charges. My work is tailored, it’s focused, and as a result I think I can achieve a better outcome than the public defenders who are handling all the different types of cases.
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