Frequently Asked Questions: Drug Charges
1. QUESTION: Why do I need a lawyer if I receive a drug related charge?
ANSWER: All drug charges, whether pending in state or federal court, are criminal in nature. These matters have serious financial and economic implications beyond the fines and costs assessed by the Court. For a large number of people, this drug charge is their first experience with the American legal system. It is a system with complex rules and procedures. A lawyer knows how to navigate through the law, the rules and the court procedures. Experienced counsel knows the law, as well as the procedures of the court.
Many drug defenses involve complex and technical issues, sometimes involving constitutional rights. A capable lawyer can assess and recognize whether the prosecution can prove its case. A lawyer can advise you regarding viable defenses; help you present defenses that work; and, when appropriate, can negotiate a satisfactory plea bargain. A lawyer can protect your rights and prevent you from being taken advantage of by an overloaded and impersonal legal system. In short, a lawyer is your ally in a complex and often hostile system.
2. QUESTION: What are your fees for handling drug related criminal cases?
ANSWER: In most circumstances we will agree to a flat fee. The fee depends upon our estimate of the time involved in handling the case.
3. QUESTION: What are my rights with regard to search and seizure?
ANSWER: It depends. You have different rights depending upon where you or your property was searched (at home, in your car or in public). You have different rights depending upon what the police were actually looking for. You have different rights depending upon whether you consented to a search. A skilled attorney can analyze the facts of your case and determine if your rights may have been violated. In many situations your Miranda rights must be read to you, but not in every case.
4. QUESTION: The drug that I had in my possession is not on the list of banned drugs, so why am I being charged?
ANSWER: The various schedules prohibiting certain drugs do not always list the common or popular name of various substances. Instead the schedules list the scientific name of the substance that is prohibited. For example, the drug "khat" (a plant native to East Africa and the Arabian Pennisula) is not listed in any of the schedules, rather the substances cathinone and cathine, which are contained within khat are listed. It is important for your attorney to understand some of the chemistry involved in various drug offenses to determine the potential for a defense.
5. QUESTION: The drugs that were found in my car (or house) were not mine, but I was still charged. How will this affect my case?
ANSWER: This situation is an issue of what lawyers call "constructive possession", meaning that you were not in actual physical possession of the controlled substances. The prosecutor and police will argue that your proximity to the drugs is constructive possession. This issue can present a viable defense, depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case, including whether you knew about the existence of the controlled substance and the exact location.