The People’s Counsel is highly adept at handling all types of drug crime charges. Drug crimes are among the most common types of charges in our criminal justice system. Drug charges can range in degree and severity depending on the type and amount of the drug. There are also varying degrees in the type of drug crime charged; for instance, there is an increasing level of punishment and enhanced sentencing depending on the actions you have been accused of. Possession of drugs will generally have a lesser range of penalties and sentences than, for example, drug distribution or drug trafficking.
Similarly, repeat offenses can act as enhancements for lower level drug charges. In the state of Missouri having a single drug-related felony conviction on your criminal record can enhance the range of punishment to a higher level. Therefore, keeping a felony drug conviction off of your criminal record is important not only for the present but also to mitigate any future drug charge you may receive during the rest of your lifetime. The top rated lawyers at The People’s Counsel have a proven track record of vigorously defending drug charges and helping to keep these types of felony convictions from ruining our clients’ lives.
Drug charges are also a unique type of criminal charge in that simply “beating the case” may not be the end of the line for the defendant. If they are addicted and need help facing and conquering that addiction, our lawyers are well versed in a variety of treatment options offered through the court as well as private treatment options. Overcoming drug addiction is a noble undertaking and is oftentimes more important to our clients and regaining control of their lives than simply beating the case. We are here as a knowledgeable resource for clients looking to get their lives back on track when this is the case.
Keeping in mind the sliding scale of severity depending on the particular drug charge you are currently facing, it can be very beneficial to have the charge reduced to a lesser charge, thereby reducing the range of punishment you are potentially susceptible to and greatly increasing the favorability of. Our lawyers have a proven track record of obtaining reduced drug charges and skillfully navigating the negotiation process with prosecuting attorneys. Here is a real-life example:
A young man was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. The cop approached the vehicle and the young man rolled down his window to greet the officer and provide his license and insurance card. The officer claimed to have smelled marijuana and asked the young man to step out of the car so he could search it. During the search of the vehicle, in addition to the marijuana he had smelled, the officer located a backpack in the trunk that contained numerous unmarked pill bottles filled with what he suspected to be illegal narcotics. The evidence was seized and the man was arrested for distribution (likely based on the sheer quantity of the pills in the backpack). As the crime was currently charged the young man was facing 4 separate Class C felonies, one for each type of drug recovered from the pill bottles, and a maximum of forty years in prison. Upon taking on the case, the top lawyers at The People’s Counsel started working on a plan. They noticed there was no real evidence of distribution other than the large quantity. The officer hadn’t witnessed any transactions, there weren’t any large sums of money in the car or backpack, there were no extra bags or packaging to distribute the pills in, etc. Using our prominent reputation for winning at trial and through careful and considerate negotiations with the prosecuting attorney’s office, our attorneys were able to get the charges reduced to a single count of simple possession; a Class D felony with a maximum punishment of up to 7 years. On top of the reduced charge the client was also granted probation for his crime and he was able to escape this situation without a single conviction on his record.
Probation is one of the fairest ways that courts and prosecutors can dispose of a drug crime. There are several different types of probation and deferment programs that can help keep a damaging drug conviction off of your permanent record. However, the road to securing such a favorable disposition can be tricky and littered with hidden dangers. For example, in a jurisdiction such as St. Louis City or St. Louis County, there may be as many as 40 possible judges that could end up presiding over your case. Not all judges are equal in their stances on drug crimes. An unsuspecting lawyer may get caught up with a judge that is notoriously tough on drug crimes; whereas our experienced and thoughtful lawyers may consider disqualifying that judge upon filing a timely motion. Ultimately, the judge has the final say on if he or she is willing to consider probation. Our attorneys are familiar with each individual judge that could possibly end up handling your case and we will help you steer clear of judges that may be less favorable for your case. Furthermore, even if you are granted probation, you aren’t out of the woods until you complete the term of your probation. Should you ever violate that probation, even for something as minor as a speeding ticket, that judge has the discretion to revoke your probation, put a conviction on your record and even send you to prison. For this reason, it is equally important for your lawyer to know the habits and tendencies of each judge when considering revocation of probation.
DISMISSALS BECAUSE OF ILLEGAL SEARCH OR SEIZURE
Drug crimes, while common, can be some of the hardest cases to defend. Often times at a trial there might not be much for a judge or jury to consider other than 1) was the substance actually an illegal drug and 2) did the defendant possess it. So the common occurrences of being caught with drugs on your person or in your car seem like a losing effort from the beginning for less experienced criminal defense attorneys. Sometimes, however, these cases can be won by examining the possible unconstitutionality of the illegal search or seizure of the drugs. The top rated lawyers at The People’s Counsel are well versed in the vast expanse of search and seizure law. We have filed numerous successful “Motions to Suppress Evidence” that excluded the alleged drugs as evidence at the trial; essentially forcing the prosecutor to dismiss the case. Simply put “No drugs; No case”.
The reality of our justice system is that not every crime that is charged is going to be disposed of before a trial. Sometimes there is no plea deal forthcoming from the prosecutor’s office leaving the defendant with only two options; plead guilty without a plea bargain or go to trial. The People’s counsel has earned and kept their reputation as some of the top lawyers in the state by going to trial and winning at trial. Of course, if there is a sensible and fair way to dispose of a drug case our attorneys will vigorously pursue that option; but sometimes the client is not guilty, the state has a weak case or perhaps trial is the best option for the client. Our lawyers are not scared of trial and will never force a defendant to plead guilty if they are innocent or it is in their best interest to go to trial. Here is a real-life example:
A St. Louis County woman was out for a night on the town for her birthday. She met up with some friends at a local bar. They decided to bar hop and a romantic interest of hers at the time asked if he and his friend could ride with her; not thinking much of it she agreed. She was pulled over almost as soon as she left the bar for making a lane change without signaling. The officer smelled marijuana in the car and she acknowledged that she had just smoked before leaving the bar and produced a single half-smoked joint from her bra. The officer asked her to step out of the car, meanwhile leaving the other two passengers in the car. When the officer returned to search the car he found a ziplock bag containing a pound of cocaine clearly visible inside of her purse. It should be noted that this is the same purse she produced her driver’s license and insurance card from. She denied that it was hers and assumed one of the passengers must have put it in there when the officer pulled her out of the car. The officer reported that she had confessed it was hers, which was a complete lie. (sidenote: our lawyers got that alleged confession thrown out for a violation of her rights). The prosecutor offered a reduced charge as well as probation, ordinarily a great deal for being caught with a pound of cocaine in your purse. However, she refused to take a deal and insisted on her innocence. The case proceeded to trial and after a two-day trial and a short deliberation the jury found her not guilty. This was the best possible result for her and although she had the option to take probation, our lawyers were confident in their abilities to win her case at trial. She went on with her life as if this had never happened.