Dixon Law has handled thousands of drug cases in the northern Alabama area. Specifically, Dixon Law has handled cases in Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Chilton, Tuscaloosa, Talladega and Blount counties, as well as surrounding areas. Drug arrests are one of the most common types of criminal prosecutions. From misdemeanors to felonies, these offenses have a large range of sentencing liability. In addition, the amount, type of substance, location of alleged conduct and the conduct itself, will often determine what jurisdiction the case will be presented. Misdemeanor drug offenses are typically prosecuted in the municipal or district court where the alleged offense transpired. Misdemeanor offenses, such as possession of marijuana 2nd degree or possession of paraphernalia are examples. Although some of these crimes can be considered minor, even a misdemeanor conviction can have a dramatic impact on your future. Government licensing, certifications, employment opportunities and security clearances can be negatively impacted from misdemeanor convictions. Therefore, it is important to hire counsel experienced in this area.
Felony drug offenses, as one may imagine, could have an even more detrimental impact on a defendant's future. Being found guilty of a felony offense not only carries more severe sentencing, but a conviction can also impact a defendant's Constitutional Rights. Charges such as unlawful possession of a controlled substance or unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, usually begin in the district court of the prosecuting county. On felony drug cases, defendant can exercise their right to a preliminary hearing requiring the prosecution to prove probable cause for the case to proceed. After establishing probable cause, these cases will then proceed to a grand jury for potential indictment.
As a defense firm, it is important to review and scrutinize the procedural aspects of a drug case. The Fourth Amendment of the Unites States Constitution prohibits “unlawful searches and seizures.” Warrantless and/or unlawful searches, for example, is a procedural issue that attempts to ensure abuse of power by law enforcement. In Alabama, if a criminal proceeding was derived from an unlawful search, then the case could be dismissed under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. This doctrine provides defendants with protection from unlawful searches and any evidence derived from an unlawful search could be found inadmissible. However, there are many caveats and/or exceptions to this rule; inevitable discovery, pat and frisk, consent to search, search incident to arrest and the plain view doctrine are examples of these exceptions. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney that is knowledgeable in this area.
Seizures are another important issue in drug cases. States governments notoriously abuse this power as well. The government will likely attempt to seize any assets and/or funds that they believe were derived from unlawful drug activity. This is a separate proceeding called civil forfeiture. In these proceedings, the state would have to demonstrate that the funds or assets attempting to be seized were derived from criminal activity and thus, should be awarded to the State. Cars, houses, jewelry, art, cash, investments, automobiles, ect, are all up for grabs. Thankfully, the United States Supreme Court, through recent case opinions, have acknowledged this abuse and has limited the government's power to seize assets. However, this remains a fight and another tool the government case use to unjustly punish defendants.
If you are charged with a drug crime, call Dixon Law today for a free consultation!!!