Drug trafficking charges are serious, and they aren’t uncommon. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, there are as many as 19,000 cases of trafficking each year, 95% of which end in imprisonment. This number might be surprising, but if you’re facing drug trafficking charges, you know how easy it can be to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. If this describes your situation, it is imperative that you construct a robust defense in order to avoid a felony conviction in the state of Nevada. Consider these factors and defenses as you work with a lawyer to build your case.
Understand the Factors in Drug Trafficking Cases
When an arrest is made in a drug trafficking case, law enforcement officers often assume the worst and charge any person who happened to be adjacent to the alleged crime. This results in many false accusations that clog up the legal system and put innocent people’s lives in jeopardy. There are several factors that these arrests are often predicated upon:
- Proximity to the controlled substance, if it was in your possession
- Your relationship with the person possessing the controlled substance, if it was not in your possession
- Knowledge that the controlled substance was present or that it was an illegal drug
- Knowledge that the substance was intended for sale to other persons or parties
These factors are the first components that a law enforcement officer is likely to consider when making an arrest, but they aren’t the only ones. It is true, too, that regardless of any of the aforementioned factors some officers will simply arrest any person who is close to the situation, regardless of whether any evidence indicates guilt. In such situations, the following defenses can be an effective approach to beating a drug trafficking charge.
Consider How Evidence Was Obtained
There is extensive precedent, especially in drug cases, to eliminate evidence that is illegally obtained. Unfortunately, many drug cases are entirely predicated upon evidence that was not collected through legitimate means, and there is also precedent for courts allowing the admission of illegally obtained evidence. Still, one of the strongest arguments you can make is that evidence being used against you was not gathered through legal means. Some examples of this include:
- Evidence obtained through a search conducted by a private citizen
- Evidence that is somehow unfairly prejudicial
- Evidence that is “hearsay” and cannot be confirmed
- Evidence that may have been tampered with or staged
These factors may make evidence in your case inadmissible in court. If any of these criteria describe the evidence being used against you, you should consider seeking legal counsel to better understand your options, build an effective defense, and ensure that you are fighting your drug trafficking charges effectively.
Argue That You Had a Lack of Knowledge
Another approach that may be prudent to your defense is the argument that you did not have any knowledge of the controlled substances’ presence or the intent to sell them. This, unfortunately, is the case for many people who find themselves caught up in criminal drug proceedings — they were merely adjacent to the events transpiring and had no direct knowledge or involvement in the crime that took place.
The burden of proof is on the state and the court, so they must prove that you were in fact aware of the presence and purpose of the narcotics in question. This can be a difficult fact to prove, especially if the substance was out of sight or otherwise concealed. If there is no DNA evidence or fingerprints, for example, an argument could logically be made that you were entirely unaware of the narcotics and simply found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Make a Case for Entrapment by Law Enforcement
According to the Department of Justice, there are two components of a legitimate entrapment defense: the unlikelihood of the defendant to engage in criminal behavior and the inducement of the crime by a government agent. In cases where both of these conditions are present, a legitimate case for entrapment may be made. Examples of entrapment on drug trafficking charges include situations such as the following:
- The government agent introduced the idea to buy or sell the controlled substance.
- The government agent was undercover and misled the defendant gratuitously.
- The government agent urged the defendant to commit the crime to the point of pressure.
- The defendant had no plans to buy or sell a controlled substance prior to influence from the government agent.
All of these are examples of cases of entrapment wherein the defendant was unfairly pressured into committing a crime, and therefore should not be convicted. If the government agent who arrested you lied about his or her identity or coerced you into committing a crime, you might also be a victim of an entrapment scheme.
Realize Proximity May Not Be the Same as Possession
Lastly, it should be clear that proximity is not the same thing as possession. Too often, defendants are over-charged with crimes such as trafficking or possession when their only mistake was being physically close to a crime scene. If you are in this situation, you know that it’s difficult to argue against the word of a law enforcement officer, but you can do so with the help of a dedicated lawyer who is committed to your case. With a competent attorney on your side, you can build the defense that is best suited to your case and fight against unfair drug trafficking charges.
Get the Legal Advocacy You Need and Deserve
When you’ve been charged with drug trafficking, it can be overwhelming and even scary. You’re facing a felony that comes with an average sentence of 66 months in prison. The Law Firm of C. Benjamin Scroggins, Esq., represents defendants in the state of Nevada who have been charged with drug trafficking and other drug-related offenses. If this describes you, schedule a consultation online or call (702) 328-5550 for more information on fighting false drug trafficking charges.