The State of Washington takes drug cases (also known as VUCSA charges, or violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act) very seriously. The penalties that you may be facing vary widely based on the quantity and type of drug involved. They may include thousands of dollars in fines and long periods of imprisonment. In the federal system, defendants face even more draconian consequences, including mandatory minimum sentences of either 5 or 10 years in prison, based on the type and amount of drug at issue. These potential penalties double for people who have prior drug trafficking convictions. Federal prosecutors very often charge defendants with being part of a conspiracy, which greatly expands their potential criminal liability.
The good news is that state and federal laws give people charged with drug crimes a number of possible defenses. It is important to remember that police and prosecutors bear the burden in any criminal case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. Some defenses may involve arguing that you were entrapped by police officers working undercover or that the substance in question was not what the police claim it was. Others, such as those related to searches and seizures, may limit the evidence that may be used against you in court.
The biggest question in many drug cases is whether police officers played by the rules in gathering the evidence against you. If a police officer wants to stop you on the street or pull over your car, for instance, the officer must have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe that you have recently been involved in or are currently committing a crime. This means more than just a mere hunch. The officer may also search you for weapons only if they reasonably believe that it is necessary for their own safety. Any evidence obtained during a stop performed without reasonable suspicion is likely to be thrown out of court.
The standard is even higher for a police officer who wants to search your car or home. These searches generally require “probable cause” to believe that there is evidence of a crime in the house or car. There are certain exceptions to the rule, such as in cases in which a police officer can plainly see contraband or other evidence of a crime or when someone who has authority to give consent allows police officers to conduct a search. However, any evidence obtained from a search that is performed without probable cause and that does not meet one of the exceptions should be excluded from use against you.
CONSULT A DRUG CRIME LAWYER IN SEATTLE OR SURROUNDING AREAS
At Black & Askerov, we have a strong track record of helping clients get the charges against them dismissed or reduced. We have had particular success in the areas of challenging searches and seizures and getting statements to police and other unlawfully obtained evidence kept out of court. Our ability to identify and litigate these issues often results in either dismissal or substantial reduction of charges. We also have significant experience working with foreign national clients to protect their immigration status if they have been charged with a crime in the U.S.
Our Seattle drug crime attorneys serve people in Tacoma, Everett, Kent, and Bellevue, as well as other communities in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. Call (206) 623-1604 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We also can represent people who need a DUI attorney or assistance in fighting charges of sex crimes, theft crimes, domestic violence, or other state and federal offenses.