Defending Drug Charges
No matter the amount, defenses for drug cases generally fall into three categories:
- The items seized weren’t illegal drugs; or
- The drugs were not “possessed” by the accused person; or
- The drugs were seized as a result of a violation of the accused person’s constitutional or statutory rights. (This defense is normally addressed through a pretrial motion to suppress; however, in Texas a defendant can submit to the jury a factual dispute relating to a constitutional issue)
In Texas, drugs are classified into four penalty groups, penalty group one providing for the most punishment. Generally, penalties are progressively higher from possession to delivery to manufacturing. Depending on the amount, simple possession of a drug in penalty group four or three may be a misdemeanor. Whatever the charge, a conviction for a drug offense may carry with it collateral punishment, such as a driver’s license suspension.
There is much to lose with a drug conviction. Even deferred adjudication probation for a State Jail felony can remain on a person’s record for more than a decade. Employers are cautious about hiring people who have a history of drug use and it is now exceptionally easy to get such information from online criminal record sources.
Fighting Illegal Stops, Search & Seizure
I will investigate all aspects of a drug arrest to determine whether unlawful search and seizure procedures occurred. I believe that illegal search and seizure is a threat not only to my clients but to the liberty and privacy of all Americans. I am alert to violations of client’s rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Where present, I move to suppress the evidence, which almost always results in the dismissal of charges. Where there has been a confession, I investigate for duress and police failures to advise my clients of their rights to remain silent and to consult an attorney. Where undercover agents are involved I check for instances of illegal entrapment of my clients.
Forfeiture of Cash & Property in Drug Cases
Like all wars, the war on drugs harms combatants and innocents alike. A good example of this is the law that allows law enforcement agencies to seize money that they believed was gained from drug activity or property that may have been used in drug activity. For example, the police can seize a car that contains trace amounts of a controlled substance.
Because the laws used to seize property are civil rather than criminal, the usual constitutional protections do not apply, including the presumption of innocence. If you want to get your property back, there are time limits and bonding procedures that must be followed.