What Are Drug Crimes, And How Should A Criminal Defense Attorney Handle Them?

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15th Feb 2017

Since 1991, a common case that South Florida/ Fort Lauderdale/Miami criminal defense lawyer Scott B. Saul handles are drug crimes. Many times, the client’s arrest in either theirs or someone else’s motor vehicle. Experienced Miami/Fort Lauderdale drug lawyer Scott B. Saul has represented clients charged with the most serious of drug offenses (trafficking) to simple marijuana possession charges.

The Traffic Stop: How Does It Happen?

Police can stop vehicles for a variety of reasons. The most common reason to stop a vehicle is due to the commission of a traffic infraction. Illegally tinted windows, no seat belt, expired tags, defective taillights, rolling stops and missed traffic signals are simple citation offenses. However, these violations give the police the right to stop your vehicle and ask for a person’s driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. While the exchange is occurring, the police have the opportunity to see inside your vehicle and smell the interior as well. If an officer smells marijuana or sees illegal substances in plain view, he or she has probable cause to make an arrest.

What Happens Once You Are Arrested?

Once you are in custody, you can be sure that the police are going to search your vehicle with a fine-tooth comb. Once the officers have probable cause to make an arrest, they no longer need consent or a warrant to search a vehicle. If the cops find a little marijuana, a person is looking at simple possession charges, which are usually easy to resolve. If cocaine or other controlled substances are discovered, an arrest will be made with those charges. The charges will be more difficult to resolve, as we are now dealing with a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. Obviously, cases will be more complicated and more difficult to resolve if a substantial amount of narcotics is found in the vehicle. The police will be looking for large sums of money, drug paraphernalia such as scales and pipes, and how the narcotics are packaged. If those items are discovered along with a large amount of a controlled substance(s), and if they are packaged in a certain way, a person could be arrested and charged with possession with intent or with trafficking if the amount of the narcotics meets or exceeds the statutory weight thresholds.

What Kind of Punishments Are You Facing?

In dealing with these cases, there is a wide range of punishments that are mostly dependent on the charges filed by the prosecuting office. Another significant variable is the venue in which the arrest occurred. An offense that is not a big deal in Miami-Dade or Broward County may be a big deal in one of Florida’s smaller, less populated counties. Another variable is a person’s prior criminal history. For obvious reasons, prosecutors will consider a person’s record when attempting to resolve a case. With all that being said, the ramifications of a narcotics arrest depend mainly on three things; (1) the type and amount of drugs found in vehicle, (2) the venue where the arrest a occurred, and (3) a person’s prior criminal history. To be more specific, a person could be enrolled in a pre-trial diversion program for the simplest of offenses, while others charged with a trafficking offense would face years in prison.

How Should Drug Charges Be Dealt With?

There is an aggressive and intellectual protocol utilized as a plan of action for clients arrested on drug charges. First and foremost, it is essential to contact the prosecuting office’s screening unit immediately after the arrest. Police officers may have overcharged the allegations upon defendants at the time of the arrest. Lobby the prosecuting office can be very effective in convincing prosecutors that the arresting officer had overcharged the case. It may be vital to convince the screening prosecutor that simple possession charges as opposed to possession with intent or trafficking charges are appropriate . It is may be more simple to attain favorable results when the charges are less serious . For example, with clients charged with “possession with intent” predicated upon the manner in which narcotics were packaged and an amount of money found, there is existing case law on the issue showing that such facts, by themselves, may not be enough to charge the more serious crime

How Do These Cases Get Resolved?

How and when a case is resolved always depends on the strength of the direct, scientific and/or circumstantial evidence collected by investigators. When the state or the government has compelling evidence, cases are often resolved as a result of plea bargaining, as the defense has a slim chance of prevailing if this evidence is presented to a jury. However, in very serious cases with very strong evidence, defendants may choose to allow a jury to determine their fate, as the plea offer is so high that the defendant would rather take his or her chances at trial rather than walk into to prison for 30 plus years. After all, the state or the government has the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The downside is that the prosecutors handling the most serious of cases having potentially long prison sentences are the most experienced and know exactly how to put a case a case together and how to present it to a jury.

If you’re being charged with a crime or trying to get a plea bargain and reduced sentence, it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact Miami-Dade/Broward County criminal defense attorney Scott B. Saul for a consultation today.