Are you facing charges for possession of or intent to distribute drugs? You might think there’s no way around the charges you’re facing, but the truth is, your situation may not be as bad as it seems. People fight and win drug charges all the time with the help of an experienced lawyer. For instance, if your Constitutional rights were violated, your lawyer can use that to your advantage.
Understand the court system is designed to “throw the book at you”
The justice system is designed so that you can be charged with multiple offenses that rack up penalties, fees, and jail time. For example, if you did anything that would be considered resisting arrest, or if you hurt an officer in the process of being arrested, you’ll be facing more than just drug charges.
Whatever your specific situation is, there’s a good chance you’re being charged with more than one crime. The prosecution loves to throw in as many charges as they can to see what will stick. Without an experienced lawyer, you’re unlikely to beat the additional charges. Worse, you may not be able to get your drug charges lessened.
Sometimes possession is mistaken for intent to distribute
Depending on the number of drugs found in your possession, you could be charged with intent to distribute. Even if the amount you were caught with was for your own personal consumption, it’s still going to look like you intended to distribute the drugs. Intent to distribute isn’t a charge you want to face with an inexperienced lawyer still learning his or her way around the courtroom.
An experienced lawyer knows how to lessen the harsh penalties
The more dangerous the drug, the harsher the penalties. In New Jersey, for example, heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug since it has no known medical value and a high potential for abuse. It is illegal to possess any amount of heroin in New Jersey. Most heroin charges of distribution and possession are considered a third-degree crime. Convictions can result in a fine of up to $35,000, imprisonment for three to five years, and a mandatory driver’s license suspension for six months.
The above penalties are maximums, and if you’re not careful when selecting your lawyer, you might just get the maximum allowable penalties and fines. Your future, freedom, and bank balance depend on your lawyer’s competence level and skill in the courtroom.
You’re not alone – drug possession charges are common
According to Drug War Facts, in 2015, there were 1,488,707 arrests for drug law violations in the United States. Of those arrests, 1,249,025 were for possession of a controlled substance. Data from this site shows a decline in arrests since 2007, but it’s still one of the most common charges people face.
The decline in arrests made could partially be the result of states passing laws legalizing marijuana both medically and recreationally.
Don’t fight with your lawyer
It’s understandable to be frustrated and angry while facing drug charges that have the ability to revoke your freedom. However, don’t take your anger out on your lawyer. At times, you might think your lawyer isn’t doing his or her best job, but remember that your perception may not be accurate. If your attorney has a track record of beating drug charges, they’re going to use the best defensive strategy they can. Keep your expectations in check because you may not get everything you want.
If, however, your lawyer doesn’t have a proven track record and you feel like they’re not properly representing you, it’s worth obtaining different counsel.
Considering self-representation? Think again
Representing yourself in court against a drug charge is the worst decision you could ever make. Don’t even consider it. If you’re frustrated with your lawyer and think you can do a better job, you’re going to destroy your case by going pro se. Self-representation over a drug charge is like walking onto a battlefield unarmed. You will regret it.
Connect with an experienced attorney
Don’t make any decisions or talk to anyone until you secure legal representation. It’s true that anything you say and do can be used against you in court. Even talking to others about your case could end up requiring them to show up to be deposed.
Start calling local attorneys, get some free consultations, research case outcomes and reputations, and choose your counsel wisely.