Every day in the United States, there are many thousands of arrests made, and many are drug-abuse related offenses. According to publicly available FBI data, in 2019 alone there were 1.5 million drug related arrests, making it the single most common reason for arrest, second only to the nebulous catchall category of “all other offenses”. Moreover, the number of drug related arrests rises to around 2.5 million if you include arrests related to “driving under the influence”.
Unfortunately, we know from experience that many of the people experiencing these arrests will often complicate their situation by making simple mistakes that frequently have disastrous legal consequences for them later on. The purpose of this article therefore is to highlight some of the most common mistakes that people make when facing drug charges, to explain why these mistakes are so dangerous and must be avoided.
Talking to the Police Without a Lawyer
Needless to say, if you are ever arrested you should always endeavor to be polite and respectful with police officers. However, that does not mean you should talk to them any more than is strictly necessary.
Some people believe that they can convince officers that they are innocent, or de-escalate the seriousness of the situation by telling a partially true story with incriminating details left out. Remember that police almost certainly have a different agenda than you do, and anything you say may sound very different when written up in the context of a police report. The golden rule is to never discuss anything with the police without your lawyer present.
Consenting To a Search
It is very routine (especially in drug related offenses) for officers to ask permission to have access to your vehicle, your home, or your own person. Remember that it is a police officer’s job to collect evidence that will lead to a conviction down the road, but unless they already have a warrant in hand, it’s your right to say no. This mistake is especially important to avoid when you consider that items found during a search cannot be challenged in court later. Always speak to your defense attorney before discussing anything with police or making any decisions that could affect your case.
Making Unnecessary Admissions
This mistake is fairly similar to the first one, but it bears repeating. Remember that an arrested person is not legally obliged to say anything at all to police, and saying anything more than you absolutely have to can have potentially disastrous results for your case later on.
Trying to convince officers that you are innocent, or giving details about your situation that you think will lessen the severity of the situation can often result in unintentionally providing incriminating evidence against yourself.
Assuming Things Will Work Out
Many people will simply hope that the situation will resolve itself – that the witness who originally reported to the police will drop the charges, or that the state will simply not pick up the charges. This is a problem because you are out of the loop with what the state is doing and the information they’re receiving about your case.
Once you’ve been formally charged it’s much harder and more expensive to have the charges dropped or changed. Having your lawyer advocate for you before the charge comes through can save a lot of time and effort.
Talking About the Arrest to Others
Just as talking to police unnecessarily during your arrest is a very bad idea, it’s also a very poor plan to discuss the details of your situation with your friends, or even worse, on the internet or social media.
The internet is by its nature, a public space. A social media page with marijuana related content or 420 references will not look good, and police and state prosecutors will be happy to leverage it against you in court. Even seeking legal advice on online forums can be potentially incriminating if you share too many details about your situation.
Likewise, talking to friends or family about your case can have negative repercussions. Even if your loved ones have the best of intentions, knowing too many details can make them a witness, and police will frequently speak to your close contacts as part of an investigation. Even if they’re trying to help, sharing the wrong detail, or even misremembering details can impact your case very negatively.
The “Hidden” Mistake – Not Having the Right Lawyer
If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that you should never take any kind of police charge lightly, and that if you aren’t careful with a drug charge, there can be very negative consequences. That’s why having the right attorney in your corner to advise you is so important.
At Widder Law, substance related offenses are one of our specialities and with nearly a decade of experience defending clients, we know how to champion you and your interests in the face of drug or DUI charges.
Trust Jeremy Widder Law to help.
With years of trial experience covering major and minor offenses (including DUI), we at Widder Law approach every client’s case with compassion, understanding, and transparency. In addition, we strive to make our services accessible to everyone with a flat-fee structure and flexible payments.
We’re ready to help. Let’s talk..