Possession and the police go hand-in-hand. 92% of marijuana arrests in 2018 related to possession, usually in small amounts.
Any drug possession charge can be difficult to deal with. One reason why is that many people are charged with possession with intent to distribute. If you face getting arrested for drug distribution, you need to know a lot of facts.
What are the laws that affect drug distribution in Baton Rouge and Louisiana? When should someone hire a defense lawyer after being arrested? How can someone defend themselves from drug charges?
Answer these questions and you can avoid the police gaining possession of you. Here are six tips you should follow.
1. Understand the Laws
There are a few drug possession and distribution laws that affect Louisiana residents. What laws affect a person depends on what the police accuse them of possessing and how much of a substance they have.
Section 40:966 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes gives the laws for possession of Schedule I substances. These are substances that can create addiction easily.
The possession of marijuana has been decriminalized. Yet a first-time offender who holds 14 grams or less can receive a misdemeanor charge and a $100 fine. Possession of more than two and a half pounds is a felony offense that can land someone in jail.
Harder substances like opioids carry stronger penalties. Possession and distribution of fentanyl can land a person in jail for up to four years, even for holding less than two grams.
In addition to possession and distribution charges, a person can get charged with the manufacture of drugs. This charge carries its own legal penalties. If someone was arrested in a car, they may get charged with driving under the influence.
2. Stay Silent
A police officer only needs reasonable suspicion to stop someone for drug distribution. Officers like to define reasonable suspicion broadly. Someone who is “acting suspicious” or who is engaged in a routine traffic stop can be investigated for drug possession or distribution.
It is extremely important that anyone suspected of drug charges invoke their right to silence. They should say, “I wish to assert my right to remain silent to any and all questions.” They should also invoke the right to refuse searches and ask for search warrants.
3. Contact a Louisiana Lawyer
As soon as someone is arrested, they should ask for a criminal defense lawyer to be with them. It is very important that they try to find a lawyer who works and/or lives in the local area. If someone is arrested in Ascension, they should find a lawyer in Ascension.
A local lawyer knows the local court system better than other attorneys. They can leverage connections and arrange court appearances for the individual’s benefit.
The person should also hire a criminal defense attorney who specializes in drug cases. It is fine to hire a generalized attorney. But hiring someone with specialized knowledge means they can use their expertise to build a stronger case.
The police do not help drug possession suspects find attorneys. Someone who does not know the contact information for one should call a loved one and ask them to contact someone. While they are in prison, they should remain silent and wait for the lawyer to arrive.
4. Stay Away From Drugs
The court treats drug distribution as a serious offense. But some people can make bail, especially first-time offenders or people suspected of having small amounts of drugs.
Anyone who makes bail needs to follow the conditions of their bail. They need to communicate with the court and their lawyer. They need to work a steady job and follow all laws.
This includes staying away from drugs as much as possible. A person should avoid associating with anyone who uses drugs.
If someone has an issue with drug addiction, they should seek medical attention from a drug counselor. A court may be willing to connect someone to resources.
5. Prepare a Good Defense
When someone is caught with drugs in their pocket, it may seem like they have no defense. Yet anyone can defend themselves or avoid imprisonment.
Anyone charged with first-offense drug charges in Louisiana has options. They can pursue a pretrial diversion opportunity.
This involves attending drug awareness classes and paying fees, but not going to prison. A defendant may not even have to plead guilty in order to pursue this opportunity.
A person should help their lawyer out. They should talk to them about witnesses they can call and give their own version of events.
They should decide if they want to testify. If they do, they should practice what they are going to say.
6. Get Ready for Court
It is very important for an individual to do everything they can to bolster their credibility. How they appear in court can matter just as much as what they say.
A person should dress in conservative and formal attire. They should arrive in court on time and get into their courtroom early. They should sit beside their attorney and remain attentive to the proceedings.
It is okay for someone to talk to their attorney during the trial. But they should keep their voice down and avoid speaking to others. They should answer questions from the judge with short and direct answers.
What to Do While Getting Arrested
Everyone faces getting arrested for drug charges. The laws for holding a small amount of drugs impose significant legal penalties, with years-long prison sentences.
Anyone stopped by the police needs to invoke their right to silence. They should talk to a drug attorney near them and get help on what to do. If they make bail, they should avoid all drugs.
First-time offenders can pursue diversions so they don’t go to prison. They should establish their credibility by seeming attentive while in court.
The law will not wait for you. Carl Barkemeyer serves the Livingston area. Contact us today.