When you’re accused of drug trafficking in West Palm Beach, Florida, you may feel the need to speak up for yourself and try to arrive at a resolution without thinking of hiring an attorney. While you’re rightfully worried about the situation’s outcome, you must take the necessary steps to ensure a better result in the drug trafficking charge. If you want to know how to beat a drug trafficking charge, you need first to understand what drug trafficking means in West Palm Beach, Florida.
What is drug trafficking?
Drug trafficking, as defined by Florida law, is the possession or otherwise transportation of any illegal substance with the intent to distribute or sell. For prosecutors in West Palm Beach, Florida, to sufficiently prove drug trafficking, they must prove that the defendant was in possession of a sufficient amount of the controlled substance.
The illegal drugs in question may vary depending on the case at hand. However, the common controlled substances that may warrant drug trafficking charges include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and hydrocodone.
There are federal and state laws to prosecute one for drug trafficking. However, it is crucial to note that many states always act based on the existing national laws on drug trafficking. Many cases are prosecuted at the federal level if it’s alleged that the trafficker crossed state lines.
Additionally, drug trafficking can be prosecuted federally if there was a large amount of the illegal substance, if the case included any other federal criminal law such as money laundering or if a federal officer led the investigation or even arrest.
How to beat a drug trafficking charge
A drug trafficking charge is a nightmare that can bear severe long-term consequences for the accused. Therefore you need to stop the charges from harming your life and family immediately.
Understand your rights
First, you should know your rights before and during your arrest. In understanding your rights, you will avoid divulging any incriminating information to law enforcement officers. For instance, you have the right to remain silent.
During your arrest, you don’t need to answer all the questions the officers ask you. If you find the questions intimidating, you can request to speak to your lawyer and remain silent until your attorney arrives to help.
The officers are also not allowed to search you unlawfully. The law states that officers can’t search your property without probable cause to believe that you’re committing an offense. If they do without cause, then any evidence they find may be inadmissible in court.
Get an attorney to represent you immediately
Next is to hire a reputable and professional attorney who has experience fighting drug trafficking charges. You must hire an attorney immediately to give them maximum time to plan your defense and find ways to save you in court.
The ideal time to hire an attorney is after you post bail. If you wait until you’re indicted, you’ll be losing precious time, and your case may go slowly or even worse. The defense strategy may be weak, thus landing you in jail.
Gather all the evidence immediately
You should work in earnest to gather all evidence for your defense as soon as possible. This is because evidence gets lost or destroyed over time, leaving you without the relevant proof that you need to prove your innocence of any charges levied against you.
Your defense lawyer may focus on collecting all relevant evidence immediately. Any piece of evidence can be crucial in helping prove your innocence, so it’s necessary to ensure that they gather as much evidence as they possibly can for your case.
Evidence tends to vary depending on the accounts of what happened and the accusations leveled against you. For instance, if you’re facing charges of drug trafficking, your attorney can ask for the alleged drugs to be tested to prove that they were, in fact, not drugs. Alternatively, if you have a strong alibi, you can forward it to show that you were somewhere else and couldn’t have possibly committed the crimes against you.
Focus on an effective strategy
After you’ve gathered all the evidence you’ll need in court, you and your attorney now need to build a strong defense. Before heading to the courtroom, your defense lawyer will arrange for any witnesses to call to the stand, sort through the evidence to present in court, and inform you of your plea.
If you’ve never been to a courtroom, you’ll have a difficult time preparing. Therefore, your lawyer can step in and take charge of things to help you better address the charges forwarded against you. The lawyer may choose to take multiple avenues to defend you in a court of law.
The job of the prosecutor is to prove their case against you beyond any reasonable doubt. Your defense lawyer may argue that the prosecution failed to verify your guilt adequately. For instance, they might say that the police officers illegally searched your property, noting that there wasn’t probable cause for the search.
This way, your attorney might successfully show that the officers violated your Fourth Amendment right, making any evidence collected during the illegal search null and void. If the officers failed to follow protocol with your case or denied you right to your attorney, they can throw your case out on a technicality. Additionally, the court can dismiss your case if the prosecution fails to stick to the specific timelines before and during your trial.
Lab equipment issues
Another Hail Mary tactic that your attorney may use to help you beat drug trafficking charges is to argue that the prosecution failed to provide sufficient proof that the substance found in your possession is, in fact, an illegal controlled drug.
Typically, once the police confiscate the substance, they send it to the lab for testing. Sometimes the testing equipment may malfunction, or the substance samples may get lost or mislabeled. Although it is a rare occurrence, your attorney can take advantage and argue that the prosecution can’t sufficiently prove that the substance in your possession was an illegal drug at the time of your arrest.
Beyond any reasonable doubt
One thing that the opposing counsel needs to prove is that you intentionally possessed controlled substances. This is a difficult element to prove, and your defense lawyer is privy to it. Even if the police found an illegal drug in your car or home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you knew it was there.
If you drive people around often, you might not know what they accidentally leave behind. You may not even know that you had a small packet of an odorless powder in your trunk until a few days or months later when the police discover it.
If your lawyer can argue that you didn’t know you had any drugs with you or that the substance belongs to someone else, the court might do away with your case. Keep in mind that the prosecution is responsible for proving your guilt. If they can’t do that and there is reasonable doubt, you can’t be convicted.
Grill confidential informants
In recent years, police have increasingly been using confidential informants to help them gather evidence against someone arrested or accused of drug trafficking charges in West Palm Beach, Florida. Most times, the police work extra hard to ensure that their CI’s identity remains intact.
However, with the Sixth Amendment, you are within your rights to confront your accuser. By identifying the CI, you can burn their confidential nature. As such, the prosecution might decide to give you a better deal in exchange for not burning the confidential informant.
Use the entrapment defense
Entrapment refers to when a CI or the government pressures you into committing a crime that you might otherwise not have committed. The attorney can use this effective defense when the CI is teaming up with law enforcement in putting heavy pressure on you to traffic drugs.
The entrapment defense essentially means that you agree that you committed the crime but had a legal justification for doing so. Although this defense is effective, it only applies in specific cases and in specific scenarios.
Request the court to amend the charge
Drug trafficking charges in West Palm Beach, Florida, are severe. However, the state may amend the situation. If the court changes the nature of the charges to a lesser charge before they resolve, you will get penalized for the lesser charges.
For instance, if you were charged with drug trafficking and the court amends the charges to possession, the prosecution can reduce the charges to possession if your attorney negotiates well. The reduced charges significantly differ from the three years minimum prison time you’d have faced to a slap on the wrist like probation.
This refers to offering law enforcement something substantial such as valuable information. By doing so, the prosecution or the judge may agree to lessen the penalties that you may have otherwise faced. You can choose to sit down with an investigator and provide important information about another individual that the police have been after for a long time.
Although substantial assistance is crucial in helping your drug trafficking charges, you shouldn’t start giving up any information if your attorney hasn’t negotiated a better deal for you.
How can we help?
Drug trafficking charges can sit heavy on anyone, and you may not know what to do if faced with them. If you or anyone you know faces potential jail time due to drug trafficking charges, you must seek a reputable criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach.
At Meltzer & Bell, we help you secure your future by assessing every possible legal avenue. We are passionate about defense and have the experience to back it up. Our lawyers have a lot of practice in defending against severe charges such as drug trafficking.