Drug Arrests in Martinez
It is highly important for people who are being charged with possessing a controlled substance to be aware of the proper procedure for drug arrests in Martinez. Constitutional violations and other errors made by law enforcement could be used by a seasoned defense attorney to minimize an individual’s potential penalties, or possibly dismiss the case entirely. Therefore, it is advisable to work with a skilled local lawyer from the onset of your criminal case.
Arrests Procedure for a Drug Charge in Martinez
The arrest procedure depends on whether the individual is being charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug offense.
Misdemeanor Drug Offense
In order to be arrested on a misdemeanor drug case, the officer would have actually need to see the defendant committing the illegal conduct. For instance, if someone is on probation and are subjected to a random search where it is discovered he or she has a small amount of an illegal substance, that might be a misdemeanor simple possession charge.
In this case, the police officer could arrest the individual right there and take him or her into custody. The other option is something called a cite and release, where the officer lets the individual know that a police report is being filed and potential charges may ensure. If the individual is arrested, he or she must be arraigned within 48 hours and be given notice of what his or her charges are. In either case, the individual will be required to go to a court date on his or her misdemeanor charge.
Felony Drug Offense
If the defendant is being accused of a felony, then he or she does not need to have committed the drug offense in front of a police officer. This is because there will often be a long period of investigating that leads to an arrest.
Law enforcement might have confidential informants engage in controlled buys and after they have gathered enough information, they might put together a request for a search warrant. After the search warrant has been signed by a judge, police will go to the defendant’s house or identified location and search for illegal substances and related materials such as paraphernalia or scales and baggies that indicate involvement in drug sales or trafficking.
Constitutional Issues During Drug Arrests
There are certain mistakes that can be made by law enforcement during drug arrests and investigations. These are usually errors relating to the Fourth Amendment. Individuals have the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures, but there are times when law enforcement officers may search someone unlawfully, access a home or location without the legal basis to do so, or invalidly go beyond the scope of a valid search warrant.
There are instances where a warrant is lawful but other actions by law enforcement are not. For example, it is unreasonable for a police officer to have a search warrant to confiscate a piano and then go look in a shoebox in someone’s bedroom and discover drugs – it is clear that a piano would not be found in a shoebox. Officers can sometimes go beyond the scope of a legal stop and frisk – if a frisk is aimed at discovering weapons that could pose a danger to the officer but the officer goes into someone’s pocket to manipulate an item that is not immediately identifiable and does not feel like a weapon but discovers a baggie of cocaine then the officer has likely engaged in a contestable search.
Another error that officers often make is the failure to test the drugs that are found to identify them as the controlled substance that the person is accused of possessing or using. In some cases, a person could be arrested for drug possession in Martinez, but it is later discovered the substance is not illegal or there isn’t enough of the substance present to identify it as a controlled substance. Proper drug analysis and lab procedures are a critical part of drug cases.
Seek Guidance from a Martinez Attorney After a Drug Arrest
Procedural mistakes during drug arrests in Martinez can be used by a skilled attorney to build the underlying defense and the position that the defendant is going to take when negotiating with the district attorney. It can also be used to file a motion to suppress evidence if there was an unlawful search or seizure.
Additionally, it helps when building the case or preparing the case for jury trial because the prosecution is required to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. If one of the elements is not met, it positions the defendant better to be vindicated at trial. Call our office today to assess how our team can help with your matter.