Drug crimes cover a wide range of offenses and, if convicted, sentencing can range from relatively “light” terms to many years behind bars. Various factors, such as the type of controlled substance involved, the amount you allegedly had on you at the time of arrest, and where the arrest took place, whether it involves sales or simple possession, can all effect the types of charges and potential sentences against you. Because of this high level of uncertainty, you do not want to risk making any mistakes in your early interactions with the police.
Here are a few things you should do if you have been charged with a drug crime.
Call a Lawyer
You should call a lawyer as soon as possible, ideally before you speak with police or any charges have actually been laid. In many cases, evidence against those charged with a drug crime is gathered very early on. This evidence typically includes statements the accused made to the police at the time of arrest. If you have a criminal defense attorney representing you early on then you won’t inadvertently relinquish your rights, such as by unintentionally offering information to the police that could provide them with additional evidence to charge you with an offense. An attorney will talk to the police on your behalf and having an attorney with you early on could maximize the chances of having the charges against you reduced or dropped. When hiring an attorney, look for one who is experienced in all types of drug cases, including at both the state and federal levels.
Do Not Consent to a Search
Remember that you have the right not to be subject to unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. A police officer may ask to search your property, including your car or home, but if they don’t have a warrant for doing so then you do not have to consent to his or her request. Of course, you should try to be polite with the officer; but being polite doesn’t mean giving up your constitutional rights. By consenting to a warrantless search of your property, you could end up giving police evidence to lay additional charges against you and ultimately end up hurting your case.
Getting Legal Help
Whether you are facing state or federal drug crimes, you need a lawyer who is going to stand up on your behalf. A conviction could land you in prison and could have repercussions for years to come, including in child custody cases and when looking for a job. An experienced lawyer will represent you both in and out of court and fight to help you maintain your rights and freedom.