How to Defend a Trafficking Case
Drug trafficking charges are very serious, and sometimes prosecutors can be overzealous when charging a person with trafficking when they are just barely past the line. Luckily, you have defense strategy options – even when facing something as serious as drug trafficking. However, none of these strategies should be selected without consulting a defense attorney.
An attorney will review the facts of your case and help determine which defense strategy is the best.
What Are Your Defense Strategies and Options When Accused of Drug Trafficking?
While you should never just pick a strategy and try to represent yourself, these potential strategies may help you combat drug trafficking charges when utilized by a criminal defense attorney.
You Did Not Know You Were Carrying the Illegal Substances
A common defense is that you didn’t know you were carrying the substances. There are ways people can trick others into doing the trafficking part for them, such as hiding the drugs in their vehicle, asking a friend to take their luggage in their car while they drive home from vacation, etc. When these happen, the person stopped is assumed to be the trafficker, even though they had no idea there were illegal drugs in the vehicle.
You cannot just say “I didn’t know” and assume the federal government will drop the charges.
Instead, your attorney must find evidence showing that you did not know the drugs were in your vehicle, nor could you have reasonably known you were transporting illegal substances.
The Search of Your Vehicle Violated Your Fourth Amendment Rights
Law enforcement must have probable cause to search your vehicle. That is because the United States Constitution, under the Fourth Amendment Amendment, protects individuals from illegal search and seizure – basically, an unwarranted invasion of their privacy. You have the right to privacy, and law enforcement cannot stop and search your vehicle just because they feel like it. Instead, they must have probable cause.
If law enforcement has a search warrant, which is issued by a judge, then they may have the right to search your vehicle. However, there are instances law enforcement can search a person and their vehicle without a warrant. If you give a law enforcement permission to search your vehicle when they make a traffic stop, then they are not violating your Fourth Amendment rights.
Furthermore, if law enforcement sees evidence of drug trafficking in plain sight, they may be able to detain you, impound your vehicle, and search it. For example, they can see the illegal substances on your back seat – not hidden.
There Was No Intent to Distribute
Part of the drug trafficking accusation is that you intended to distribute the drugs you were trafficking. Intent is a rather large component of this charge, and sometimes a person is charged with trafficking just for having a substantial number of drugs in their possession. You may be able to argue there was no intent to distribute, but this is a complex defense strategy that only a defense attorney should decide on.
That doesn’t mean that you can say 100 pounds of heroin is for personal use and assume you will get out of a trafficking charge. The type of drug you are found with may be intent enough, after all, it is hard to argue that you were in possession of a large quantity of an illegal substance and say it was only for personal use as you trafficked it.
Evidence Was Fabricated or There Is a Flaw in the Witness Testimony
Entrapment is common, especially in allegations of drug trafficking. Also, due to law enforcement relying heavily on paid “snitches,” the person that notified law enforcement of your activities may lack the credibility necessary to convict you of trafficking illegal drugs.
You may have an argument that you were the victim of entrapment, as long as you can prove that the government induced the act and that you lacked the predisposition to commit that crime on your own. Without evidence proving such, it would be hard to say law enforcement entrapped you into a trafficking charge.
Pretrial Release Arguments and Petitioning for a Bail Hearing
No one wants to spend time away from loved ones, and if you have been arrested for drug trafficking, you may find yourself waiting for your day in court inside a county jail or prison. Your attorney can argue for a pretrial release, especially if you have ties to your community (e.g., family members, a home, or even employment in the area).
Plea Bargaining to a Lesser Offense
If you know you are guilty but you want to lessen the charges against you – and ultimately how much time you spend in prison – you may be able to negotiate a better plea for a lesser offense so that you can decrease the penalties you face.
Never negotiate with the prosecutor alone, however. Instead, you need a criminal defense attorney by your side who will fight for your rights and make sure that you are not accepting a plea bargain that is not the best one for your situation. An attorney will examine the evidence and determine if you are better off taking a plea bargain, or if your attorney feels you have a chance to fight this in court successfully.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Who Has Experience Handling Drug Trafficking Cases
If you have been arrested for drug trafficking, now is the time to be extra careful about who you pick to represent you in court. You need a criminal defense team with years of experience, not only handling drug cases, but handling those involving drug trafficking – because these often fall into federal jurisdiction.
Contact the aggressive defense team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to start exploring your options. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations, and we will examine the evidence to help find the best possible outcome for you.
Call us today to get started or contact us online.