When you are faced with jail or prison time as a result of drug charges, an attorney who has regularly advised and represented clients in criminal drug law matters can help you to achieve a cost-effective and timely resolution. To learn more, contact our firm to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Crimes
Q: What are the common legal challenges raised in drug cases?
A: The most common challenges in drug cases relate to how the evidence was obtained. If the police violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights or Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, the court will suppress the drugs or statements as being unlawfully obtained. Without this evidence, the prosecution may not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the case may be dismissed as a result.
Q: How is drug court different from regular criminal court?
A: Drug courts combine criminal justice and medical treatment models to deal with drug crimes. They recognize that incarceration may not be the most effective method for breaking the cycle of drug addiction and crime, especially for first-time and low-level offenders. Drug courts emphasize a cooperative approach between the prosecutor, defendant and court, and they favor rehabilitation over jail. Successful completion of drug court programs can result in reduced charges or sentences, or dismissal of charges altogether.
Drug Crimes - An Overview
Drug crimes cover a broad range of offenses involving controlled substances, from possession and sale to manufacture and distribution. These crimes involve violations of federal or state law, or both. Depending on the particular circumstances of a case, these offenses can result in a broad range of potential criminal and administrative consequences, including probation, prison, property forfeiture and participation in a court-ordered drug treatment program.
Though more severe charges typically result in harsher penalties, even less serious charges, such as possession of a small amount of a controlled substance, may have severe consequences, especially if the defendant has prior convictions, used a firearm in the commission of the crime, engaged in criminal activity near a protected zone (such as a school or park) or involved minors in the crime. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact Bauer Crider Pellegrino & Parry in Clearwater, FL, today to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your legal options.
Federal Drug Crimes
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, also known as the Controlled Substances Act, classifies narcotics, marijuana and other drugs into five categories, or Schedules. Besides establishing requirements relating to manufacture and distribution of drugs, the law also defines penalties for violations of the Act. Depending on the nature and quantity of the substance involved, as well as the presence of sentence-enhancing factors, the criminal penalties can be severe.
Searches and Seizures in Drug Cases
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. Particularly in drug cases, the legality of how law enforcement officials obtained the evidence used to support the State's case is a central and often-challenged issue. If the government's conduct violated the Fourth Amendment, the evidence is deemed inadmissible. Without the necessary evidence to prove the criminal charges, the State may have to dismiss its case against a defendant.
Criminal and Civil Forfeiture
Forfeiture is the government seizure of property connected to illegal activity. Utilized by the federal and state law enforcement in the ongoing "war on drugs," the practice has not been without controversy. Law enforcement has asserted that it is a necessary and effective deterrent to drug crime, while opponents argue that existing procedural safeguards result in too many innocent parties having their property taken away, with little or no recourse for recovery.
Alternatives to Incarceration in Drug Cases
Since the late 1980s, there has been a dramatic shift in the American justice system's approach to drug crimes. Drug courts, which operate or are being planned in all 50 states, offer an alternative to traditional incarceration. By providing a structure that emphasizes substance abuse treatment and on-going supervision, drug courts aim to rehabilitate and reduce repeat offenses.
Drug Crimes Resource Links
Illegal Drugs Information
This website provides facts, policy issues and public opinion information about illegal drugs from Public Agenda, a nonpartisan opinion research organization.
Maintained by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, this website provides information about the history, operation, organization and goals of drug courts throughout the country.
Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties
This United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) site lists the penalties for federal trafficking offenses by drug, quantity and offense level.
Criminal and Civil Forfeiture
This page, maintained by the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School, gives an overview of the government power to seize of property connected to illegal activity and explains the difference between criminal and civil forfeiture.
The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. This site provides the full text, history and scope of this amendment.