What To Do When Facing Drug Charges

Tips for forging a strong legal defense

By Tim Kelly, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on June 12, 2023

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If you’re facing drug charges such as drug possession or drug trafficking, it’s never too early to consider your legal defense. Criminal cases for drug crimes can be complex, time-consuming, and stressful.

It’s essential to know and protect your legal rights before, during, and after an arrest on drug charges. This article will help you quickly educate yourself on this complicated area of law as you seek legal representation.

What Are Drug Violation Charges?

People face criminal drug charges when they are found to be in the illegal possession of a controlled substance.

Controlled substances are drugs that the federal and state governments have deemed to pose a risk of addiction or harm when abused or misused. Controlled substances are grouped into five “schedules” or categories based on their accepted medical use and potential for abuse or dependency.

For example, Schedule I substances are deemed to have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. They include heroin, LSD, and cannabis. Many states have decriminalized or legalized cannabis, but it remains illegal at the federal level.

In the United States, you can face serious legal repercussions for possessing or distributing these substances. Potential penalties depend on state criminal laws and whether you’re charged at the state or federal level but can range from misdemeanors to felonies and bring significant fines and jail time.

Whether you’re facing possession or trafficking charges, you should know your constitutional rights under the law. Serious drug possession charges can lead to some of the harshest punishments in criminal law.

What To Do After Being Charged

If you are stopped by law enforcement, it is important to understand your constitutional rights.

First, the Fourth Amendment prevents United States citizens from being unlawfully searched or having their property unlawfully seized. This means that a police officer needs to have a reason to stop you. In the criminal justice system, this is referred to as “probable cause.”

To have probable cause, an officer must be working off more than mere suspicion. For example, if a police officer approaches you in your car and encounters a heavy odor of marijuana around your person, that might give them enough probable cause to detain and search you.

If police detain you, know that you do not have to speak with them and can instead invoke your constitutional right to an attorney.

An effective criminal defense attorney can analyze the facts of your case and determine if your constitutional rights were infringed upon by law enforcement. Any evidence that has been deemed to be obtained unlawfully will be inadmissible against you in criminal court.

Your rights extend far beyond your initial arrest. You are entitled to have an attorney present with you during the investigation and court proceedings. This includes criminal lineups and interrogations. Don’t hesitate to request that an attorney be present whenever questioned.

Study the Facts of Your Case

As you seek out an attorney, sit down and gather the facts of your case.

This means reviewing your criminal report and any other documentation provided to you by police.

While you don’t need to memorize your case or get too in-depth with the law, it helps to have at least an understanding of what you’re up against before you relay your situation to legal professionals.

Work With Your Attorney To Seek a Resolution

A criminal defense attorney’s job is to represent their client’s best interests in the criminal justice system. An attorney keeps their client informed about their legal options and advises them on next steps.

A criminal defense attorney strives to get the best outcome for their client. This may involve working with criminal prosecutors to negotiate a plea bargain, for example. While you can go it alone, the criminal justice system is not friendly to novices, especially if your case goes to trial.

The sooner you seek effective legal representation, the better. Even if you anticipate being charged or served with a search warrant, it is never too early to sit down with an experienced attorney for a free consultation. An experienced attorney will look at the facts of your case and provide you with invaluable legal advice.

It’s natural to be concerned about the costs of getting a criminal defense attorney. However, having an attorney often saves money associated with the legal process in the long run.

Finding the Right Drug Charge Attorney

You must seek the right attorney from the outset—someone with experienced legal knowledge in defending drug charges.

The right attorney will look at the facts of your case and determine the best course of action. Your attorney will present you with their informed legal advice as they work to resolve your case. Visit the Super Lawyers directory and search based on your legal issue or location to begin your search.

Search for a drug & alcohol violations attorney in or around your local area.

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