It is possible to get drug charges dismissed or reduced. For first-time offenses, it’s sometimes possible to work out a deal that results in nothing worse than a deferred sentence. With a deferred sentence, the defendant pleads guilty and will have some probationary requirements and time to prove that they can stay out of trouble. The charges will be dismissed once the defendant completes the requirements and they have not committed any new crimes for that period of time. They can then possibly get that case expunged from their record. But, the more charges a person has, the more difficult it makes it to get a deferred sentence.
Something I do with all my clients charged with possession of drugs is to immediately start them on classes. This begins with the ADSAC evaluation, which involves seeing a licensed counselor. They talk about the individual’s use of drugs, and the counselor generally recommends a treatment regimen—usually classes. The number of class hours varies depending on the level of the type of charges or the type of drugs. Then, the individual goes back to the counselor and has a final evaluation. This helps my clients in a couple of ways. First, the client will be able to get a head start on the classes that they will likely be required to do. Second, it generally improves the plea offer from the prosecutor.
There typically must be a legal reason to have charges dismissed or reduced. A good way to get charges dismissed is to prove that the drugs belonged to somebody else. For example, if fingerprints on the bag belong to only the other person in the car, then there would be a high probability of getting that charge dismissed. A bad stop or illegal search are good reasons charges can get dismissed. If the prosecutor will have a difficult time getting that evidence admitted, then it could be possible to have the charges dropped. If I can convince a prosecutor that the client was merely present when the drugs were there and he or she had no connection to the drugs, then chances of getting charges dropped increase.
There are usually Fourth Amendment issues in drug possession cases. A lot of people who are arrested for drugs are pulled over by law enforcement or stopped by law enforcement in some way, are interrogated, and searched. Many cases are thrown out during pre-trial due to Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations. First, I need to see if the stop was legal. Officers must have reasonable suspicion to believe that there was a violation of law to pull the car over. Second, I’ll look to see if the officer had probable cause to believe that the person had drugs in their car. If the stop was illegal or there was no probable cause, then there may be solid grounds for dismissal.
Even if I believed there was an illegal search, a bad stop, or my client didn’t have possession, the prosecutor may still not dismiss the case because prosecutors are very reluctant to dismiss cases in general. Instead of getting charges dismissed, the plea offer may improve. It’s worth it to the prosecutor for a defendant to receive a lighter punishment in order to not go through a suppression hearing and potentially lose at trial. They would rather get something instead of potentially getting nothing.
When I present these issues to the prosecutor, it’s not just me telling them whatever comes to mind. I have to research these cases and the laws. I need to know my cases well and identify the issues. I find previously decided cases that have similar facts and issues of law to my cases and present them to the prosecutor. I can say, “Here’s a case that was recently decided by the Court of Criminal Appeals, and they sided with the defendant. The facts of that case were similar to the facts in my case, so this is why I think you should dismiss my case.”
Sometimes, a case can be dismissed due to lack of evidence. My very first case as a student public defender involved possession of marijuana. There was supposed to be a dashcam video of it. I asked repeatedly for this dashcam video. The prosecutor ultimately dismissed the case because the video that should have existed didn’t exist. I made it clear that the evidence would still exist had the officer followed the correct procedure.
For more information on Reduction & Dismissal Of Drug Charges, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 633-3420 today.