Drug crime cases are always hard to go through, and especially if you’re unsure of what to expect. Your drug crime lawyer is there to help you with the legal process, though, and that starts with finding out a few basics about how drug crime cases tend to go. Be sure to reach out to a lawyer right away to get more specific information for your unique situation.
6 Things to Know About a Drug Crime Case
Things Will Go In a Certain Order
The steps involved in a drug crime case can vary a bit depending on the specific circumstances. However, there are some general steps that are typically followed in most cases. You should call a drug crimes lawyer as soon as possible for the best result, but if for some reason you don’t, you can opt for one at almost any point in this process:
Arrest and Booking
The first step in a drug crime case is typically an arrest. After an arrest, the person will be taken to a police station and booked. Booking is the process of officially recording the arrest.
An arraignment is the first step in the criminal trial process. It often comes not long after an arrest, but it can also be held later if you weren’t arrested and were just served with a summons or citation. At the arraignment, you’ll be informed of the charges against you and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The judge also sets bail at this time, which is the amount of money that you must pay to be released from jail pending trial.
The arraignment is a critical stage in the criminal justice process. It is important for defendants to understand their rights and to have an attorney present at the arraignment. If you have been arrested, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
After the arraignment, either party (you or the state) may file pretrial motions. Pretrial motions are requests to the court to make rulings on various issues before trial, such as the admissibility of certain types of evidence. If, for example, a police officer conducted an improper search, your lawyer may move to having anything found in that search excluded from the case.
If you plead not guilty, the case will go to trial. A trial is a hearing where the prosecution and the defense present evidence to the judge or jury. However, before or even during this point, the state may also offer you a plea bargain. Never take a plea bargain without talking to your lawyer, first. Sometimes, the plea bargain is a terrible option; at others, it’s a great option. It all depends on the specifics of your situation.
If you’re found guilty, the next step is sentencing. Sentencing is the process of determining the punishment for the crime. The judge will consider a variety of factors when determining the sentence, such as the severity of the crime, your criminal history (or lack thereof), and personal circumstances.
If things go against you, you may be able to appeal. Your lawyer will be able to tell you more.
The Drug Schedule Matters
Kansas, like many states, follows the Federal Controlled Substances Act’s drug scheduling system. Drugs are categorized into five schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical use:
- Schedule I: high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use (e.g., heroin, LSD)
- Schedule II: high potential for abuse but with some accepted medical uses (e.g., cocaine, oxycodone)
- Schedule III: moderate to low potential for abuse and accepted medical uses (e.g., anabolic steroids, ketamine)
- Schedule IV: low potential for abuse and accepted medical uses (e.g., Xanax, Valium)
- Schedule V: very low potential for abuse and accepted medical uses (e.g., some cough medicines with codeine)
The drug schedule matters to your drug crime case because it determines the severity of the penalties. For example, possession or distribution of a Schedule I drug, which has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, will almost certainly result in more severe penalties than possession of a Schedule V drug. The drug schedule can impact your legal strategy and the defenses available to you.
There Are Varying Penalties for Drug Crimes in Kansas
The penalties for drug crimes in Kansas depend on several factors, including the type of drug involved and the quantity, whether you were actually caught using it, whether you distributed or had an intent to distribute, any prior criminal history, and aggravating factors, like having drugs near a school.
The penalties can range from probation and community service to substantial fines and lengthy prison sentences. For example, possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use may result in a minor misdemeanor charge, while drug trafficking charges can lead to a long prison sentence and thousands of dollars in fines.
You Are Protected Against Illegal Search and Seizure
In drug crime cases, search and seizure laws are key. Law enforcement officers must follow strict protocols when searching an individual, their vehicle, or their property. If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights during a search, any evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court. It is crucial to work with an experienced drug crime attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
You Might Be Eligible for a Drug Diversion Program
Kansas offers drug diversion programs for certain non-violent, first-time drug offenders. A pretrial diversion program is a way to avoid a criminal conviction and jail time. Ask your lawyer if you’re eligible. If you are, you’ll need to complete certain requirements, such as:
- Attending treatment or counseling sessions
- Completing an educational program
- Performing community service
- Staying out of trouble
If you successfully complete the program, the charges against you will be dismissed.
An Experienced Drug Crime Lawyer Is Key
Navigating a drug crime case successfully is nearly impossible without professional help. Hiring an experienced attorney is crucial to protecting your rights and securing the best possible outcome. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you understand all your options, build a strong defense, negotiate with the state and understand if a plea bargain is a good deal, and provide lots of other important help.
What Should I Do If I’m Arrested?
It’s essential to remain calm and exercise your right to remain silent. Do not discuss the case with law enforcement or anyone else. Contact a qualified lawyer as soon as possible.
Can a Drug Charge Ever Go Off My Record?
In Kansas, certain drug crime convictions may be eligible for expungement (the legal term for removing a charge from your record) after a specified period of time, depending on the severity of the offense. An experienced attorney can help you determine your eligibility for this.
Do Any Drug Crimes Have Mandatory Minimum Sentences?
Yes, some drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences in Kansas. Certain drug trafficking offenses, depending on the type and quantity of the controlled substance involved, may result in a mandatory minimum prison sentence. Again, your attorney can tell you what’s best to plead and help you make the right decision.
Work With a Qualified Drug Crime Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, don’t wait to call for help. The sooner we get started, the better the outcome we may be able to get for you. To learn more, contact Henderson Legal Defense, LLC right away at 913-347-4367.