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How Do I Defend Against a Drug Trafficking Case?
With several states beginning to introduce laws legalizing marijuana, it's important to know what Pennsylvania's policies on the matter are regarding the matter. If you're ever traveling through, know that you are subject to the laws of the state you are in rather than your home state. Pennsylvania takes drugs very seriously, and if you're not careful, you may find yourself in much deeper trouble than you ever expected to be in, and be in need of a drug crime attorney.
Your options when you are charged with a drug offense
We're here to discuss what your options are if you've found yourself in trouble with the law regarding drugs. Keep in mind that sometimes a complete pardon from drug offenses is improbable, but a skilled attorney can get your sentence significantly reduced. Read on to find out how.
We start with the initial collection of evidence
The starting point of any drug case goes into the initial collection of evidence. The constitution affords rights that local police cannot override. The fourth amendment protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizures, and specifically requires warrants to be approved by a judge and supported by probable cause. The Pennsylvania constitution provides even greater protection than the federal counterpart. We take a look into the circumstances. Supposing the police stopped you, was their reason for doing so justified? Was the search not supported by reasonable suspicion? If the cop's seizure was not supported by his observation of criminal activity, we've had success in suppressing the drugs from entering into evidence. At that point, there is rarely a case to continue on.
What if we can not suppress the drugs as evidence?
This is certainly the ideal way the proceedings would go, but there are always situations where everyone involved had done their job well and there are no grounds to suppress the drugs. What happens then is we begin to take a look into your behavior and what the police found on you. It's in these circumstances where we are no longer looking at keeping you out of jail, but rather limiting your time. Our intention at this point is to prove that your intent in having the drugs was not to distribute, but rather to use them. There is a huge difference with respect to sentencing between the two cases. It's an ungraded misdemeanor to possess the drugs for personal use, with penalties up to a year. Possession with intent to deliver carries a hefty maximum of 15 years and is a felony. A felony conviction will not only put you away for a long time, but it will haunt you for the rest of your life. Many jobs will see this in a background check and pass right over you. So it's in situations where a party's rights have not been trampled upon that we seek to avoid the distribution charge and prove the drugs were intended for personal use.
Personal use versus intent to deliver
What can determine whether or not the drugs were intended for personal use? Well there are a couple things we can look at. First off, a good indicator is whether or not the individual was under the influence of the drug when they were arrested. The amount of drugs is another good indicator. One or two baggies is more indicative of personal use, where 10 baggies could show the intent to deliver. Large amounts of cash on a person can show the intent to deliver. The possession of use paraphernalia is another good indicator of personal use. It should also be worth noting that Pennsylvania recently passed a law to fall more in line with national standards regarding the searching of a vehicle. Prior to this law, Pennsylvania police were required to obtain a warrant to search an occupied vehicle if they had reasonable suspicion. Now, however, reasonable suspicion is enough to justify the search of an inhabited vehicle. This ruling also deems the possession of hidden compartments in a car as a felony, showing intent to deliver. There are many factors that we can use to our advantage to try to prove distribution was not the goal, and it's important to have an attorney who has a comprehensive understanding of your rights. If you find yourself in trouble with the law regarding drugs, don't hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Roy Galloway.