The charge of drug trafficking is a serious one, and typically carries with it harsh penalties for conviction, often including mandatory minimums. Although the penalties for drug trafficking vary from one jurisdiction to another, it’s almost always considered a felony, and has penalties that range from three years in prison up to a life sentence, depending on the type – and quantity – of drugs involved.
First Things First
If you have been arrested on suspicion of selling narcotics, you need to get a lawyer. The police will try to get you to give a statement, but don’t give them any information whatsoever. Only communicate with your lawyer, or on the basis of his (or her) advice.
At your arraignment hearing, the judge will ask you if you have a lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, the judge will ask if it is a matter of cost. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender to represent you. Please note, however, that the criteria for determining whether one is able to afford a lawyer varies from one jurisdiction to another.
Choosing a Drug Charge Lawyer
A good lawyer can be the difference between a lengthy prison sentence and a misdemeanor, so it pays to choose your representation wisely. A good drug charge lawyer will have a track record of success in representing clients who have faced similar drug trafficking charges. Your lawyer should be able to articulate a sound strategy that you both agree will get you the most favorable results for the circumstances surrounding your arrest.
Your lawyer should exhibit sound judgment and offer services for a reasonable fee. It’s a plus if your lawyer has positive relationships with people in the court system where your case will be tried. If you have met with a lawyer and feel that he or she does not meet these criteria, keep looking until you do.
First Meeting with a Lawyer
When you first meet with a lawyer, you can use this introductory meeting as a way to evaluate how the lawyer would handle your case. Be sure to bring all necessary documents with you, including any paperwork from the court detailing the charges against you, your bail papers, the police report, and any other paperwork the police may have given you. Also be sure to write down any questions you may have for your lawyer ahead of time.
If you are confident in the strategy that your lawyer presents, and he or she has a good track record with similar cases, then you are ready to hire your lawyer.
Possible Defenses for Drug Trafficking
Your lawyer will try to negotiate down your charges, and their associated penalties. This may include trying to “plea down” a felony drug trafficking charge to misdemeanor drug possession. Here are some of the most common defenses:
- The police did not have probable cause to conduct a search
- The police did not obtain a warrant prior to conducting a search
- The drugs were for personal use and not intended for sale
- The defendant was unaware of his or her involvement in trafficking activities
If you have been arrested or charged with a federal drug crime, or are under investigation for suspicion of drug distribution, contact Premier Federal Criminal Defenders today.