What to Do When You Have Been Charged with a Drug Crime

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.

Interstate Drug Trafficking

If you are under investigation for or have been charged with interstate drug trafficking, sale or distribution, you want an experienced and aggressive lawyer to protect your rights. Interstate trafficking is a federal offense. When you are charged with a drug crime in the federal courts, different rules apply, including the possibility that your assets will be forfeited.

There are many ways to protect your interests in an interstate drug trafficking prosecution:

  • The first is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Because the federal criminal justice system is distinctly different from the state system, you want a lawyer who has handled cases there, who knows federal criminal procedure, and can make certain you don’t unnecessarily provide prosecutors with evidence against you.
  • It is also critical to exercise your constitutional rights, starting with the right to remain silent. You do not have to talk with law enforcement officers or with federal prosecutors without having your attorney present. You also have a right to know the charges against you and to confront your accuser.
  • Don’t allow law enforcement officers to search your property without a warrant. Police must have probable cause to search for drugs or drug paraphernalia. If you voluntarily allow them into your home, they may view evidence that can be used to get a warrant.  Always ask to see a warrant. If they don’t have one, you can ask them to leave.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, every client receives a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

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