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What Does Conviction for Possession of Drugs Entail?

by Robert Kerr

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People convicted on the grounds of possession of drugs can face an array of penalties at the time of sentencing, which can vary from state to state. Conviction for simple drug possession can invite lenient penalties such a fine of less than $100 and/or a few days in jail, to stricter ones like a huge fine of thousands of dollars and several years in state prison.

The fact that simple drug possession attracts the lightest sentence should bring relief to those accused of it. However, the intent to distribute drugs or the manufacturing of drugs can bring you heftier consequences.

At times, prosecutors offer plea bargains to defendants, which might help them get some concession in the form of a reduced sentence, a lowered charge, the dismissal of the case, or a higher priority investigation.

Illegal drugs and narcotics are often referred to as “controlled substances.” Possession of drugs such as heroin, marijuana, or any other controlled substance, is a crime under the state as well as the federal laws.

Possession of Controlled Substance

A person is said to possess a controlled substance when he is found to be owning or otherwise possessing drugs or other illegal substances. The drugs in question include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine (or meth), or other illegal narcotics.

Apart from that, certain legally available drugs or prescription medicines are also considered as controlled substances and possession charges can apply even if you are found possessing these medicines without a proper prescription.

Wondering what else could land you in legal trouble? Read on.

1. Intentional Control

You can be accused of the crime of possessing a controlled substance if you are found to be knowingly or intentionally keeping/retaining an illegal drug. In order to prove you guilty, the prosecution needs to establish that you knew that the drugs were illegal and yet you were in control of them and/or intended to use them.

Prosecutors can demonstrate this from the circumstances of the case, without the support of your statements or the evidence that you actually did use the drugs.

2. Being in Possession

Possession implies that you had personal and physical control over the controlled substance.  Several times, courts have ruled that a person can have either actual or constructive possession over the drug. This implies that you were either carrying it in your pocket (or another form of personal custody), or that you had control over it, for example by having it in your bag, hidden in your car or at home.

3. Partial Control

You can be convicted of possessing drugs if the prosecutor can prove that you had at least partial (or shared) control over the drug.

If drugs are found in an apartment shared by two roommates, for instance, each can be convicted for drug possession. To convict them, however, the prosecutor should be able to prove that they both, in fact did have control over the drugs while they were roommates in the same home.

Drug Possession Penalties

Depending on the state the crime occurred in, drug possession charges can lead to a wide spectrum of penalties.  The severity of the punishment will be based upon several factors such as the amount and the type of drug discovered, how the drug was found, and the criminal history of the person found possessing the drugs.

Let’s take a look at some of the important consequences that come with such as charge.

1. Fines

Most convictions for drug possession culminate in fines. These fines can be either very low i.e. even lesser than $100 or can go up to as high as $100,000 or above.

2. Imprisonment

Going to prison or serving jail time is also likely for a person convicted of drug possession. Jail sentences can differ depending on the nature of the crime, the type and the amount of drugs, and the state laws. Typically, it varies from a few days or weeks to a decade or more.

3. Probation

Probation statements are common in drug possession cases and are generally coupled with other penalties such as fines, jail time or rehabilitation. Probation will require you to be in touch with a probation officer and fulfill specific terms and conditions, failing which a jail sentence may come into effect for you.

4. Diversion Programs

These programs are, typically, used in first-time-offender cases. The prosecutor allows the drug offender to undergo a counselling and a behavior program which, just like probation, requires the offender to abide by certain terms and conditions for a stipulated period of time. The prosecutor can agree to drop the drug charges upon the successful completion of the program by you. However, if you do not go by the diversion terms and conditions, the prosecutor can pursue the matter further.

5. Rehabilitation

Several states make provisions for the court to sentence a drug offender to spending a fixed period of at a rehabilitation center or a drug treatment program. This is done in exchange for serving jail time. Attending rehabilitation can also be one of the terms in probation sentences.

Getting Legal Help

You need to ensure that you engage the best DUI lawyer to help you fight drug possession charges, thereby leaving you devoid of a criminal record.

Do hire an attorney from the state where you’ve been accused of such a crime. For instance, if you were charged for possession or driving under the influence of drugs in Chicago, look for a DUI lawyer in Chicago.

Not only will he would have specialized in fighting drug crimes, he will also be well-versed with the laws of the case. This could be immensely helpful for you.

Conclusion

While most people do not consider drug possession a serious crime, getting convicted for it can leave an impact on one for a long time. Apart from that, it also leads to establishing a criminal record, which could hinder you from living a normal life in the future. A skilled lawyer can be your best ally in such a situation. Do hire one who can protect your interests as well as your rights.


What You Can Expect from Your Criminal Defense Attorney

by Robert Kerr

Criminal Defense Attorney Chicago(Image credit: www.flickr.com)

The experience of being pressed with criminal charges and the legal hassles that come along with it can be difficult to endure. You need someone who can defend you vigorously and protect your legal rights. No one do that better than a skilled criminal defense attorney.

A criminal charge can impact several aspects of your life negatively – your job, your housing application, even your credit card application. It is not worth risking all of this. The decision of choosing just another lawyer to represent you, without giving it much consideration can increase the chances of things going awry. You need to make a smart decision when choosing a suitable criminal defense attorney for your case.

By hiring an experienced attorney to fight for you, you increase the likelihood of getting an acquittal or reducing your penalties to a great extent. Here are the top five ways in which a reputable criminal defense attorney can help you.

1. Negotiate a Deal

One way to avail a reduced sentence is by negotiating a deal or a plea bargain with a prosecutor. Moreover, in certain cases, a deal can also eliminate various charges pressed against you.

It is important to note that prosecutors are often unwilling to negotiate with defendants who represent themselves. This is where a criminal defense attorney comes into the picture.

Upon carefully studying the intricacies of your case, a criminal defense attorney can advise the best possible way to go in order to get your sentence reduced. They can let you know whether or not pleading guilty would be the right step for your case.

Additionally, they will provide you with an overall perspective of your case and advise you accordingly regarding the steps that need to be taken.

2. Provide You with a Better Understanding of Laws

Criminal cases are very complex as each case is unique. Additionally, the laws and regulations associated with them can also be quite difficult to comprehend. There may be several crucial legal rules and regulations related to your case that might make or break it.

Your defense lawyer will help you understand these laws and their significance. Additionally, he will also frame arguments based on them and represent you positively. This will strengthen your case to a great extent and change the course of the proceedings.

Moreover, there are certain local rules and regulations of the court that vary from state to state. A skilled defense lawyer will point these out to you and handle the case bearing those laws in mind.

3. Help You Understand the Loopholes in Prosecution’s Evidence

As a layman, you may not be able to read between the lines and cover the minute details in your case. Also, capturing loopholes in the prosecution’s evidence can be extremely difficult. This task needs a lot of knowledge and skill and only an experienced criminal lawyer can help you with it.

They can identify the weak points in the prosecution’s evidence, thereby strengthening your case by tracking down the necessary records.

In order to hire a reputed criminal defense lawyer, searching online can prove quite helpful. If you are looking for a lawyer in Chicago, you can search online for criminal defense attorney Chicago. This will provide you with a list of lawyers based in Chicago. You can check their online rating and opt for initial consultation. On the basis of that, you can go ahead and select a suitable lawyer for your case.

4. Prepare a Viable Defense

A skilled attorney will zealously represent you by preparing a viable defense by taking care of the following:

  • Investigating and gathering facts
  • Preparing opening and closing statements
  • Reviewing police reports
  • Researching case precedents and statuses
  • Questioning and cross-examining witnesses and knowing who can stand as a strong witness and get them to support the accused
  • Presenting all possible defenses in the court of law
  • Filing the right and appropriate requests with the court
  • Ensuring that the evidence to be included was obtained lawfully
  • Making sure all the constitutional rights of the accused are protected
  • Familiarizing the accused with local court customs and the entire criminal case procedure
  • Helping the accused deal with negative emotions, which often range from embarrassment to low self-esteem.

5. Act as a Watchdog – Oversee the Conduct of Officials

There have been various instances wherein police reports or testimonies have turned out to be exaggerated or fabricated . You don’t want the same to happen in your case. If there’s anything more difficult than representing your criminal case yourself, it’s dealing with dishonest officials and their improper behavior.

By having a criminal defense lawyer by your side, you will be able to prevent falling into this trap. They will see to it that your constitutional rights are protected. Further, the lawyer can protect you against improper police behavior and assist you in uncovering the truth.

Conclusion

The decision of choosing the wrong criminal defense attorney can cost you greatly. On the other hand, a skilled attorney, who knows the ropes of fighting criminal cases will give his best and try to achieve the most favorable outcome for you. The above mentioned ways make amply clear how they can help you out. Being represented by a lawyer who holds a respectable position in the legal arena will undoubtedly strengthen your case.


Here’s Why You Need to Hire a DUI Attorney

by Robert Kerr

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Being arrested and charged with driving under influence (DUI) can be an arduous situation for you. Worse still, your reputation could be at stake. Moreover, there is a possibility of the suspension of your driver’s license, hefty penalties and even potential jail time.

A lot of these consequences can be avoided with one person by your side – a skilled and a knowledgeable DUI attorney.

Hiring a DUI attorney is in a defendant’s best interest as not only can the defendant protect his/her legal rights in the criminal justice system, but also avoid potential damage to his/her career and life.

With the help of an attorney, fighting a DUI conviction can get quite simple. It will ensure that you have the best possible defense.

Here are four reasons that clearly state the importance of hiring a DUI attorney.

1. Get an Experienced Opinion

Once you have analyzed your case, you will need an experienced legal opinion about it. Only an experienced DUI lawyer can help you with that. Further, he/she can help you with various issues related to your case in ways such as:

  • He/she will possess extensive knowledge of the laws and know how to identify potential weaknesses and strengths of the case, and thereby assist in building a strong defense.
  • He/she will know which evidence will be helpful to your case.
  • He/she will be familiar with the validity of various field sobriety tests including breathalyzers in court.
  • He/she will protect your Constitutional rights.

There are a lot of ways to find an expert DUI attorney. If you or your close ones are pressed with DUI charges, you can ask your friends, colleagues or relatives for a reputable lawyer. Searching online is also a good way to find DUI attorneys. If you are a resident of Chicago, you can search online for drug lawyer Chicago. This will provide you with a lot of relevant results. Once you are done with shortlisting a few lawyers, you can check their reputation through online rating.

2. Help with Plea Bargain

There are certain cases in which the charges pressed against the defendant are very strong and he/she is unable to defend them due to a lack of experience in legal negotiations. In such a scenario, an expert attorney can use his/her negotiation skills and a lesser sentence can be availed for the defendant.

It is likely that the attorney may be able to plead the DUI charges to a lesser one, such as a reckless driving charge. The defendant may also be able to enter into the first-time offender program that allows him/her to avoid a criminal record. Legal DUI experts know all about such programs and can, therefore, help the defendant.

Before you plead guilty, you should learn about the various DUI penalties and fines in your state. Only then can you make an informed decision. By consulting an attorney, you can know whether or not you have the option of pleading bargain in your case.

For instance, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) shows .08, conviction is less of a certainty and a DUI attorney may be able to better plea bargain your case. Another fact to consider is that in most first-offense, non-injury DUI cases, the judgment seldom varies from one case to another.

Pleading guilty is not the only option in DUI cases. All such lesser-known details can be divulged to you by a skilled lawyer, if you are being assisted by one throughout your case.

3. Get a Better Understanding of Laws

The laws related to DUI arrests and convictions are quite complex. Each case is different; therefore they need be approached in a unique way.

A qualified and dedicated DUI attorney can assist you in the following ways:

  • Educate you on the laws related to DUI, how serious convictions can be.
  • Provide a better understanding of the nature and the severity of the criminal charges and their consequences.

4. Minimize Serious Consequences

DUI charges come with several serious repercussions such as paying fines, potential jail time and even losing the driver’s license for a certain span of time. Unlike earlier, it is now considered as a very serious criminal offense.

Depending on the state, you may be subject to a few or all of the following penalties for a first offense:

  • Temporary impounding of your vehicle
  • Fine of up to several thousand dollars
  • Installation of an ignition lock that prevents your car from starting if you’ve been drinking
  • Probation
  • Possible jail time
  • Revocation of your driver’s license
  • Community service
  • Completion of substance abuse classes at your own expense.

If you are involved in an accident or are a repeat offender, these penalties will increase significantly. In order to avoid such consequences, the best solution is to be legally represented by a highly experienced and trustworthy lawyer. By availing a lawyer’s assistance, there are high chances for achieving a lenient sentence.

  • By pointing out the positive aspects of the case or the defendant, the attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a lesser offense.
  • By being familiar with DUI cases, the procedure, and the tendencies of different judges, the attorney may be able to have the defendant’s case handled by a more lenient judge.
  • By helping the defendant prepare for the interview with the probation officer, the attorney may be able to help the defendant avoid unnecessarily burdensome probation conditions.

Moreover, an attorney can also help guiding a defendant through the process of getting his/her driving privileges reinstated.

Conclusion

Facing a DUI charge requires you to maintain your calm and patience. The charge can result in lasting damage to your driving record, give rise to a criminal record, and cast a doubt on your ability to keep up with your job. Why would you want to risk all of this and your freedom? The above reasons make very clear  how a DUI attorney can help you in resolving your case in the most reasonable and effective manner. Let the attorney handle your case and fight the DUI charge pressed against you.


Factors to Consider before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

by Robert Kerr

Criminal Defense Attorney(Image Credit: www.hirharang.com)

If there’s anything more frustrating than facing a criminal charge, it is hiring the wrong criminal defense attorney. Hiring the right lawyer plays a major role in helping you deal with your criminal case. It is, perhaps, one of the most important decisions you will ever make.

You need to be level-headed and make a wise decision when it comes to choosing the right attorney. This can be a challenging task as there are a lot of criminal defense lawyers available. Not hiring an expert may weaken your case.

It’s important to hire someone who holds an authoritative position in the legal arena, can fight for you and protect your reputation and rights.

Here are five essential factors to bear in mind when hiring a criminal defense attorney.

1. Reputation Plays a Crucial Role

Does your criminal defense attorney hold a respectable position in the legal arena?

If the answer is in the negative, you need to think twice before hiring that particular lawyer.

Opting for someone just because they charge less or impress you with their advertising campaign would be a ridiculous criterion to make a decision. You can know whether the prospective lawyer is reputable or not only through their track record.

You need to find out if the attorney is respected by the judges, the percent of referrals he receives from his/her clients or other attorneys, and most importantly if he/she is trustworthy.

There are various means to know the reputation of prospective lawyers: referrals, testimonials from prior clients, and most importantly online rating.

Online searching is also a great way to find law firms in your area. If you are living in Chicago then you could simply search online for criminal defense lawyer Chicago. This will provide you with a list of all the prospective law firms. Once you have the list, you can start the hiring process by individually contacting them.

2. Experience In the Criminal Law Field

You cannot opt for someone who lacks the experience or the skill to deal with cases in the field of criminal defense. Only a professional will try and work hard to bring a positive outcome for your case.

Moreover, the prospective defense lawyer needs to have relevant experience in defending the type of crime that you have committed. Depending upon the type of criminal charges that you are facing, you need to choose someone accordingly. For instance, if you are being charged with a federal crime, then you must opt for someone who specializes in the federal law niche.

The following are a few questions you must ask the attorney in order to get a clear picture:

  • How many years of experience does he/she have in dealing with cases similar as yours?
  • How many members does his/her criminal defense team comprise?
  • How many jury trials has he/she engaged in?

3. Transparency Is a Must

One of the most important factors in legal matters is maintaining transparency related to the criminal case.

How would you feel if your lawyer hides information about the payment policies or doesn’t update you on how your case is proceeding?

You need to see to it that your lawyer is being absolutely clear in his communication with you right from the beginning. You will get an idea of this during the initial consultation itself. Right from the outline of how the case will proceed, the time duration,  the number of court appearances you will have to make, to the expense you will have to bear, he needs to estimate all these factors for you beforehand.

This applies to you as well. Bring all paperwork related to your charges and bail amount. You must provide even the minutest details to your lawyer.

4. Understand the Difference and Choose the One Who Meets Your Needs

First and foremost, you will need to determine the kind of lawyer that you need. This depends on the criminal charge levied against you- whether it is made by the state law or federal law.

If you have broken a federal law, you must hire an attorney who is more experienced and who can dedicate more time to your case. The primary reason for this is that federal law is more complex. The Federal law prosecutor (United States Attorney’s office) has more time and resources as compared to the State law prosecutor. It is, therefore, likely that the prosecution will be much stronger in the federal case and hence require that the federal defense attorney be more experienced in handling such cases.

Once you have selected the respective lawyer, he/she can help you out in various ways such as:

  • Negotiating a deal
  • Figuring out a good sentencing program depending on your situation
  • Giving you a proper understanding of the laws and your rights
  • Lessening the severity of the punishment
  • Developing a sound defense strategy

5. What You Must Essentially Take Care Of

Rule of Thumb: If a lawyer guarantees you a result, he/she may be lying and you should not trust him/her.

The outcome of any criminal case depends upon various factors such as:

  • Skill of your attorney
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the evidence and the testimony
  • Discretion of the prosecuting defense attorney.
  • Tendency of the judge assigned to your case
  • Willingness of police officers and victims to cooperate in reaching a fair resolution of your case

If a lawyer promises you no jail time or the dismissal of your case without understanding the above points, you need to be cautious in hiring him.

Bottom line: Don’t get lured by false promises. Certain lawyers apply all possible tactics to simply earn money. You need to be smart and know how to read between the lines.

Secondly, if a lawyer claims to know the judge or be friends with the prosecutor, you need to be very careful about hiring him. You cannot be sure of his allegiance and ascertaining his loyalty towards you will be difficult.

Conclusion

Choosing the right criminal defense attorney requires that you bear all the above factors in mind. Only then can you select a lawyer who can be not only your authoritative and knowledgeable voice in the legal field, but also save you from a punishment that you may not deserve. Don’t lose your calm, trust your instincts and make an informed decision. Find someone who knows the ropes of criminal cases and is confident enough to fight for you and protect you.


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