Is There a Common Scenario of a Drug-Related Arrest?
Interviewer: If there ever a common story that you hear from your clients after a drug-related arrest?
Traffic Infractions Often Lead to the Leveling of Greater Charges
Brett Hollett: Typically, I think that the one commonality is how people get arrested for drug offenses. Usually, they are pulled over for some traffic infraction and the officer may smell marijuana or he may see prescription drugs on the console or the cup holder and may start to inquire more and more.
Most frequently, the drugs are in plain sight or the driver or someone else in the vehicle gives consent to search the vehicle. Then low and behold they find some drugs and put on an additional charge along with whatever traffic infraction they stopped the person for initially.
If the Police Find Drugs in a Vehicle with Multiple Occupants, All May Face Possession Charges
There are many times also that people don’t realize that if a car is pulled over and there are three or four people in that vehicle and for some reason the officer suspects drug use in the vehicle they may request to search the car.
If the drugs aren’t found on any person and they’re just found under a seat or in between a cushion or wherever and if no one confesses to owning the drug, that officer can charge each individual in that car with possession.
Possessing Even a Very Small Quantity of Marijuana Can Lead to Charges in Alabama
Interviewer: Some people assume if they possess only a small amount of marijuana, they won’t get into trouble. Is that one of the myths that you hear?
The Personal Use Debate: The Level of the Charge Can be at the Officer’s Discretion
Brett Hollett: It is and the way Alabama law is written it doesn’t specify a certain quantity. It just says any amount other than for personal use. Again, the personal use is up for debate so it will pretty much be a judgment call by the officer who makes the arrest. They decide whether or not there is enough marijuana to charge you with marijuana in the first degree, which is a felony versus marijuana in the second degree, which is a misdemeanor. The burden will then shift to the accused to show that the amount possessed, however large or small it may be, is for personal use.
Drug-Related Case History
Interviewer: Can you share a drug-related case history?
Brett Hollett: Unfortunately, we handle numerous possession cases. One client of mine was in college and he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance (prescription medication) and the sale of those pills to some of his friends. He was facing the enhancement penalties because he was in fact arrested selling these drugs while on his college’s campus.
Where You Were Arrested for Selling Drugs Can Enhance the Charges
That added a serious enhancement to his charge. Under Alabama law, in addition to any penalties you may be facing prescribe by law, there is an enhancement penalty of 5 years incarceration in the state penitentiary with no provision for probation if the location of the sale was on the campus or within 3 mile radius of the campus of any public or private school or housing project. It made his case more difficult to settle because of the mandatory jail sentence. That case took a lot of hard work and a lot of time but we were finally able to work out a favorable agreement with the state and with the arresting agency to have his cases dismissed.
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