What Cases do Drug Lawyers Handle?
If you or someone you know is charged with a drug crime, it is important to contact a drug crime lawyer as soon as possible. These criminal defense attorneys handle many types of drug-related cases including:
Drug possession is the crime of having one or more illegal drugs in your possession; these drugs could be for your personal use, sale, distribution, or some other activity. You are said to have possession of drugs if they are in your hands, on your person, or possibly in your vehicle. Penalties for simple possession range from a fine of less than $100 and/or a few days in jail to thousands of dollars and years in jail. First time offenders may be eligible for drug treatment instead of some other penalty. Drug Possession Laws in NYS
Also known as drug distribution, is the crime of selling, transporting or illegally importing unlawful controlled substances such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin or other illegal drugs. Columbia, Bolivia, and Peru are the world’s main cocaine producers. The Caribbean, Central America and Mexico are the principal corridors for transporting illegal drugs into the U.S. Both federal and state laws apply to these cases. If you are caught trafficking illegal drugs across state lines you can be charged under federal law rather than state law, which applies if you are trafficking drugs within one state. Drug Trafficking Law in NYS
Drug manufacturing is another serious drug-related crime if it is performed illegally. For example, cultivating or manufacturing illegal drugs, including marijuana and methamphetamine, is illegal under both state and federal laws; there are limited exceptions for marijuana in certain states. In a criminal law setting, drug manufacturing occurs when the defendant is involved in any step of the illicit drug production process. It should be noted that the illicit production or manufacturing of drugs is charged as a felony, with penalties ranging from prison time to steep fines and probation. You may also be charged with this crime if you sell certain chemicals, specialized equipment, or simply offer to help produce illegal drugs.
Note that the mere possession of drug manufacturing materials is not enough to bring charges of drug manufacturing—example: a box of cold medicine in the back seat of your car must be found along with the materials used to “cook” meth in order for an officer to bring an arrest charge.
A drug smuggler (sometimes called a “mule” or courier) is someone who personally smuggles drugs across the border for a smuggling organization, rather than mailing them or using some other method. Unlawful controlled substances involved in this crime include marijuana, heroin and cocaine. If you are found with a large amount of illegal drugs, you could be charged with smuggling or trafficking if it is believed that you intended to sell them.
A drug dealer is someone who sells any type or quantity of drugs, illegally. Small time drug dealers usually sell drugs to offset the costs of their own habit, while highly organized groups deal drugs to make huge profits and are run like a serious business. If you are found dealing less than one gram of drugs you face a state jail felony charge with possible penalties of up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If you are dealing one to four grams you could face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of $10,000.
Drug paraphernalia is a term that is related to any of the materials used to make, conceal and use illegal drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and meth are among the drugs that make use of drug paraphernalia. User-specific types include glass pipes, or “bongs,” cocaine freebase kits, syringes for injecting drugs, and clips for handling a marijuana joint. Dealer-specific types of drug paraphernalia are used by drug traffickers or sellers for drug distribution; these include digital scales and vials as well as small zipper storage bags. Since some type of paraphernalia can be used for legitimate purposes, law enforcement must have more concrete evidence that they were meant to be used for drug use, such as drug residue on the paraphernalia.
State Crimes and Federal Crimes
Most federal drug convictions are obtained for trafficking, while most state and local drug arrests are made on charges of possession. Federal penalties tend to be harsher than state penalties. Estimates put the cost of illegal drug activities at over $100 billion a year; reasons include accidental death and injury, health care, criminal behavior and dependency treatment, among others.
Conclusion: Common Defenses
The most common defense to a drug charge is a claim by the defendant that the police officer overstepped the Fourth Amendment search and seizure laws, in terms of detaining the defendant and obtaining evidence. A good drug crime lawyer may be able to prove that the officer violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights in finding and seizing drug evidence. In that case, the defendant may be exonerated.