What to Expect if You’re Arrested for Drug Possession
The red and blue lights flash before your eyes, and you hear three words that immediately make your heart feel as though it has just collapsed: “You’re under arrest.”
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a good time, but when drugs come into play, you’re playing with fire.
Like all criminal charges, in order to actually convict you the prosecutor must prove you committed a crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Luckily there are many ways to fight drug charges. The best drug crime attorney defenses focus on ways to expose flaws or introduce doubts in the evidence required to convict you.
Should you get arrested on a drug possession charge, here’s a rundown of what you can expect and what you need to do.
Let’s get started.
Getting Arrested for Drug Possession
Possessing any quantity of illegal drugs, including ecstasy, LSD, methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin — and sometimes marijuana — is illegal in most U.S. states, counties, and cities.
Not only that but also it’s viewed as a federal crime.
Each jurisdiction has its own laws. However, depending on how much of a drug police found in your possession and how often you have been charged with drug possession, the situation could land you in prison for the rest of your life.
What Should You Do When You Are Arrested?
For starters, stay calm. There’s no need to panic just yet. After all, just because you are charged with drug possession doesn’t mean you are immediately guilty of this serious crime in Lady Justice’s eyes.
Of course, staying calm following a drug arrest can seem impossible. But reining in your emotions is paramount because an outburst from you may result in extra criminal charges, such as the obstruction of justice or resisting arrest. In addition, you could get hurt because police will have no problem using force to finally subdue you.
So, simply inhale and exhale, and allow the police to place their handcuffs on you. Then, be still as you take the ride to the police station.
Once you get to the station, you’ll get one phone call before being put in a jail cell. If you have a lawyer, make that telephone call count by contacting him or her. Otherwise, you can call a family member or friend, who can search for a lawyer for you.
Finally, to avoid having to remain in your jail cell during your entire case, request that the court set bail for you during your arraignment. At this type of court proceeding, you’ll hear all of the charges that have been filed against you, and you should also be prepared to enter a plea.
The judge can either deny you bail or grant you bail. If he or she denies you bail, there’s nothing you can do about that. Just stay in communication with your lawyer and follow his or her guidance.
What Should You Avoid Doing When You Are Arrested?
When you are first arrested, you may have to provide the police with identifying information, such as your name and age. Outside of that, it’s best that you keep your mouth sealed. After all, silence remains each arrested person’s inalienable right based on the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.
What if police begin to ask you questions related to your case? Simply tell them that you choose not to speak until a lawyer is present with you. Just be sure to respond in a respectful and direct manner to avoid getting on your arresting officer’s bad side, which certainly won’t help your cause.
Your right to keep silent following your arrest doesn’t apply only to the words you speak, however. They also apply to the words you write.
For this reason, it’s paramount that you avoid signing any document that authorities put before you. In addition, avoid writing down anything that may harm your case.
Also, try to avoid weaseling out of your drug arrest — for example, by attempting to bribe the officer arresting you. It won’t work. Bragging about yourself or dropping names will prove futile, too, and may, in fact, only result in embarrassment for you.
Not all drug possessions are equivalent. The severity of your drug charge depends on the types of drugs you are accused of possessing.
For example, Schedule I drugs are those that are easy to abuse and that do not have medical uses. These drugs, which carry the greatest danger, include the likes of marijuana, LSD, GHB, and heroin.
Schedule II drugs, on the other hand, do possess some recognized medical uses. These drugs include prescription medicines such as oxycodone and morphine, opium, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
Schedule III drugs are less likely to be abused and have many medical applications. These types of drugs include Vicodin, ketamine, and anabolic steroids, for example.
Meanwhile, Schedule IV drugs are predominately prescription medicines that are not likely to be abused. Examples of these drugs are Ativan, Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax.
Finally, Schedule V drugs are medicines with a low possibility of being abused. They typically feature small quantities of codeine or other narcotics.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
If you face a drug possession charge, your charge will be either a misdemeanor or a felony based on the amount and type of the drug involved, along with other factors.
These other factors, known as aggravated factors, include the following:
- Possessing a drug in a minor’s presence
- Possessing a drug near or in a facility used for drug treatment purposes
- Possessing a drug at a housing unit, in a pool, at a park or in another type of public place
- Possessing a drug near or on school grounds
- Repeat offenses
If you possessed a Schedule I drug, you will most likely face a felony charge.
A felony charge might also be possible if you were found with a Schedule II drug, particularly if you had a large amount in your possession. This is because the government immediately assumes that you were planning to distribute or sell drugs if you had a large amount with you.
Even if you were honestly planning to use the drugs personally, not sell them, government officials may still try to push for you to be convicted of a felony. Why? Because in their eyes, you posed a grave danger to your community.
A felony drug conviction will get you a harsher punishment than a misdemeanor will, with your punishment potentially including years in jail, a hefty fine and probation.
Defenses Against a Charge of Possession
Fortunately, in certain circumstances, you may be able to defend yourself against a charge of possession effectively.
For instance, perhaps you can demonstrate that you did not know that drugs were near you when police found them and arrested you. Perhaps you were driving your friend’s vehicle and did not realize that he had hidden drugs in his glove compartment.
In addition, let’s say police searched your car or your body without cause. If this happened, then the drugs they found in your possession cannot be used as evidence in court, as authorities violated your constitutional rights. In this situation, the court will dismiss your case.
Another possible defense involves claiming that a police planted a drug on you while searching you. This, however, can be challenging to prove.
Also, note that drug possession falls under two categories: constructive possession and actual possession.
The former refers to situations where defendants were in control of certain drugs even though they did not have these drugs in their possession when they were arrested. The latter refers to situations where defendants actually had drugs on them when they were arrested — such as in their pockets or purses.
The government must prove that you fit either of these categories before you can face a drug possession conviction.
Your Rights Following a Drug Arrest
If authorities claim that you committed a drug crime, it is within your right to go to trial to aggressively fight your charge. Prosecutors at trial must prove your charges beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard that exists with the goal of ensuring that if you are innocent of a drug crime, you don’t get punished for the crime.
However, let’s say that the weight of the evidence that prosecutors have appears to be heavy. In this case, it may be in your best interest to simply seek to plea bargain with the prosecution. This may lead to lighter charges and thus a more lenient sentence for you in the end.
Your attorney can assess your case and help you to determine the best course of action to take considering the unique circumstances surrounding your arrest. Attorney Daniel Stockmann of Nebraska says that for this reason, choosing the right attorney is critical. This attorney has constantly emphasized the importance of selecting both a knowledgeable and an experienced legal expert in cases involving drug crimes.
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Get in touch with us to find out more about how to fight for your best interests if you face a drug possession charge or other legal problems in your state.