If you have been charged with a drug crime, you are undoubtedly worried about the outcome of your pending prosecution. Because every drug case involves a unique set of facts and circumstances it is crucial that you consult with an experienced attorney; however, there are some questions defendants frequently ask when they are facing a drug-related prosecution. With that in mind, a Murfreesboro drug defense lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby answers five commonly asked questions.
- If the police didn’t have a warrant don’t they have to drop the charges? This is a common misconception. You do have a constitutional right that prevents unreasonable searches and seizures. That right creates a general warrant requirement; however, that requirement has been watered down over the years by the courts. For example, while a warrant (or one of the limited exceptions) is needed to search your home, the warrant requirement for a vehicle or for your person is less strict. Nevertheless, if the police did conduct an illegal search and seizure, your attorney may be able to get all evidence seized during the search excluded from trial. That, in turn, may leave the prosecution with no choice but to drop the charges against you.
- They didn’t find the drugs on me. How can they charge me with a crime? They are likely charging you using the doctrine of “constructive possession.” Legally, there are two types of “possession” – actual and constructive. Actual possession requires the suspect to have physical control over the contraband. Constructive possession is intended to cover situations where the police believe contraband belongs to an individual but was not found directly on the individual. Constructive possession requires the State to prove that the defendant had “knowledge of the item in question and had the intent to maintain dominion and control over the item.” It is frequently used when drugs are found under the seat of a car, for example, or hidden inside a home.
- If I have a prescription for the drugs, how can they charge me with a crime? Having a valid prescription may be a defense if you are charged with possession of a controlled substance; however, whether it is a defense depends on the circumstances. For example, if the substance you had in your possession wasn’t the same dosage, or you had more than you should have had, the prosecutor may still have a case. You could also be charged with delivering or distributing a controlled substance if you gave any of your prescription drugs to another person for any reason. Giving a friend one of your pain or anxiety pills, for instance, could be viewed as trafficking in a controlled substance.
- The State offered me a probation only plea. Do I really need a lawyer? You should never accept a plea agreement without consulting with an attorney. Although you may not be facing jail time if you accept the plea agreement, the non-judicial ramifications of a drug related conviction can be serious and follow you for life. The money you may lose because of lost job opportunities over the course of your lifetime is likely far more than the cost of a drug defense lawyer. Moreover, you may have a defense that could prevent a conviction altogether which would obviously be the preferred outcome.
- If I’m convicted, what factors will determine my sentence? In some cases, statutory maximum and minimum terms of imprisonment may apply. In addition to or in lieu of those mandatory sentencing guidelines, there are factors that will impact the sentence you face, including:
- The type of drugs. A Schedule I controlled substance, for example, is considered more dangerous than a Schedule V controlled substance.
- The quantity of controlled substance involved. A conviction for simple possession will not result in penalties as serious as those for dealing or trafficking in a controlled substance.
- Your own criminal history (or lack thereof). A previous conviction for the same, or similar, offense can enhance the penalties you face for an instant offense. In addition, any previous felony conviction could be considered an aggravating factor and increase your sentence. Conversely, if you have a clean criminal record, you may be eligible for a lighter sentence or even a diversion program if convicted.
- Aggravating circumstances. There are statutory aggravating factors that can increase your sentence, such as selling drugs close to a school, selling drugs to a minor, or carrying a firearm during a drug deal.
Contact a Murfreesboro Drug Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a drug crime in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro drug defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. In Tennessee contact a Murfreesboro criminal lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby to discuss your legal options. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.