Assuming we lose and we don’t win the case, then the main reason you won’t go to jail is if it’s first offense. If it’s a second or third or more offense, then the best way to avoid jail is to show the judge at sentencing that you are utterly committed to a lifetime of sobriety and treatment. That means NA several times a week, drug treatment program, clean urine tests, reading books on how to stay clean, having people come to court that are family members and sponsors in NA that say, “I live with this guy, I dine with him, I have breakfast with him every day, your Honor and we talk about sobriety everyday and we read books together and we go to NA meetings together. I drive him to the program every night and he is committed to trying to turn his life around and be part of the program and be free of drugs”.
If somebody doesn’t have a drug problem and they’re found with the second offense and it’s recreational, then at that point, we still need to go through the same steps even if they don’t have drug problems because judges presume that somebody with the second or third offense does have a drug problem. Part of our role is to convince a non-problem drug user, recreational user client that they need to go through the exact same steps to show the judge that they’re committed to at least showing that they don’t have a problem. That’s part of a regime of self-punishment before court. The more we punish ourselves before court, the more hard work we do before court, the more humbling things we do before court, the less likely a judge is going to want to punish you at sentencing.
What if There Was a Very Small Amount of Drug? Would that Still Create a Big Issue?
It depends on the record. Probably if it’s a very small amount, if it’s a second or third offense, it would be unlikely to cause a jail sentence but it really depends on the record. If somebody has two convictions in the last two years for the same offense, then the judge is going to think, “Even though it’s a small amount, this guy got lucky and he’s probably doing this every night and I’m going to treat him as if he had a bunch of pills”. Generally just having one pill, if it’s a first or second offense, will help in sentencing but if it’s a third offense and there’s a bunch of recent convictions, it’s not going to help because the judge is going to presume that it’s just happening on a regular basis and they got lucky on this one particular arrest.
When Does A Drug Case Become a Federal Issue?
Federal charges are involved where there’s a large amount of money seized, where there’s a large amount of drug seized or there are confidential informants telling the police about a large amount of drugs that are being moved by the suspect even though the police don’t have a lot of money or a lot of drugs already. I have a case right now where the proof against my client is miniscule. However, the case has been sent to the federal prosecutors because CIs, Confidential Informants have told the state prosecutors and the state police about a history of dealing large amounts over long periods of time and the they are now interested in taking the case because of that. The second reason is that the co-defendant of my client was found with hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash. So my client is being swept up into the larger circle around him of other drug dealers. There is a fourth category where it goes federal if there are drugs found or reported about large amounts being moved between states. If the police or the prosecutors can prove that the large amount is being moved between states and that attracts the eye of the federal prosecutors.
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