If you are under investigation for a drug offense, or have been arrested for or charged with a state or federal drug crime, you may be uncertain what you should do to protect your rights and your future. Police and prosecutors can be very aggressive in drug prosecutions. You can feel like the rules are all in favor of the state, and that the language they use is intentionally designed to confuse and intimidate you.
In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a wide range of criminal acts involving controlled substances, including simple possession, possession with intent to sell, sale or trafficking, manufacturing or cultivation, and drug conspiracy. If you are charged under a federal law, you may risk the forfeiture of your property, if prosecutors can convince the court that you obtained the property with profits from the sale of drugs.
Here are the most important steps to follow when involved in a drug investigation or prosecution:
• Hire an attorney as soon as possible—You may view the arrest as a mistake and believe that, if you just carefully explain the facts, everything will be cleared up and you can walk away. This rarely (if ever) happens. Even though you are innocent until proven guilty, police and prosecutors will be looking for anything they can to use against you. They know the law a whole lot better than you, and can easily turn what seems completely innocent into damaging evidence. An attorney will know what to do and what to say (or what not to say).
• Exercise your right to remain silent—The U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to remain silent. You don’t have to talk to police or prosecutors if you don’t want to. Don’t try to talk your way out of trouble. In most instances, you will only make things worse.
• Don’t help the police do their job—To conduct a search or seizure, police must have probable cause, or must have a valid warrant. If the police come to your home, you do not have to let them in, unless they have a warrant. If they don’t have one, politely decline their request to come in.
At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.