What are the common legal challenges raised in drug cases?

The most common challenges in drug cases relate to how the evidence was obtained. If the police violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights or Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, the court will suppress the drugs or statements as being unlawfully obtained. Without this evidence, the prosecution may not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the case may be dismissed as a result.

How is drug court different from regular criminal court?

Drug courts combine criminal justice and medical treatment models to deal with drug crimes. They recognize that incarceration may not be the most effective method for breaking the cycle of drug addiction and crime, especially for first-time and low-level offenders. Drug courts emphasize a cooperative approach between the prosecutor, defendant and court, and they favor rehabilitation over jail. Successful completion of drug court programs can result in reduced charges or sentences, or dismissal of charges altogether.

What is the difference between civil and criminal forfeiture?

Forfeiture is the government seizure of property connected to criminal activity. In criminal forfeiture, the government takes property after obtaining a conviction, as part of the defendant's sentence. In civil forfeiture, a criminal charge or conviction is not needed; the government only needs to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used to facilitate a crime. In theory, criminal forfeiture is a punishment, while civil forfeiture is remedial. Most forfeiture actions are civil.

If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?

Even if you plan to plead guilty to the drug crime with which you are charged, getting the advice of experienced counsel offers you the best chance to minimize your sentence and maximize your opportunities to move ahead toward a brighter future. Criminal defense attorneys play an important role in the criminal justice system, by equalizing the balance of power between the defendant and the prosecution and ensuring that the constitutional rights guaranteed to all criminal defendants are protected. An experienced drug crimes attorney can negotiate for terms most advantageous to the client as well as guide clients toward treatment options that may be looked upon favorably by the court or prosecutor.

What are controlled substances "Schedules"?

The federal Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into five categories, or "Schedules," based on their potential for dependency and abuse as compared with their therapeutic value. Schedule I controlled substances have the highest potential for dependency with no accepted medical use, while Schedule V drugs have a low potential for dependency and accepted medical uses. The most severe penalties for illegal possession, sale or manufacture of controlled substances involve those listed in Schedule I. Most, if not all, states have drug laws that mirror the Controlled Substances Act.