Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

In Preparing a Defense for My Drug Charge Case, What Is Important Information or Details That I Should Share With My Defense Attorney?

Once you have actually hired an attorney for a drug case, you should be open and honest with your attorney so that he or she can prepare for each stage of the case. For instance, one of the most important issues is to determine whether the officer actually had cause to make an arrest when he did. You’re going to want to know the details as to exactly how the actual arrest came about. What were you doing? Where were you? Who was there? What did the officer do? How did they do it? Again, this is a general statement because every case is different. But things that may seem unimportant to the defendant can be extremely important.

A very large percentage of cases involving drugs, and many non-drug charges, are related to a defendant’s history of drug abuse. Recent changes in the law create opportunities for defendants with drug issues to very favorably resolve serious criminal charges. Having a defendant admitted into a drug program could leave them with little or no criminal record at all. So, the important thing is to make sure that you cover everything in great detail with your attorney as early as possible, so that he can figure out the best strategy forward. And, if anything changes as the case is going on, make sure that your attorney is aware. Your attorney is on your side, and he or she is not going to use anything you tell him against you in any way.

Do You Advise Your Clients, Guilty Or Not, To Start Any Sort Of Counseling For Alcohol Or Drug Programs Or Meetings While Their Drug-Related Case Is Ongoing? Can That Help Your Defense?

It will never hurt you in a case to attend a drug and alcohol program. It’s not something that a prosecutor is going to use against you by forcing you to testify that you are in a drug program. I’ve never seen that happen. In terms of defending the case on a trial basis, it’s not going to make any difference one way or another. But being in a drug program while the case is going can certainly tip the scales as to whether you can get into a court-sponsored drug program, which can be very beneficial in terms of how the case is settled. Just as important, if you need a drug program with no regard to the criminal case, you should be doing it for your own good. I always encourage a person to go into a drug program if they have any kind of drug abuse problem.

In My Drug Case, Will I Have To Enter A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty? Will My Drug Defense Attorney Have All Of The Discovery Before We Have To Make That Decision?

Beginning in2020, plea-bargaining has changed in favor of the defendant. Previously, very shortly after a defendant was arrested and arraigned, he would often be given a take it or leave it plea offer. If the defendant didn’t take the plea that the prosecutors were offering at the time, they would treat him or her much more harshly. That has now changed. If an offer is made early on in the case, before there’s been any discovery, you have a right to hold your answer in abeyance until you have received discovery. And the people cannot simply withdraw the offer because you now have the discovery. This is one of the few things that’s recently been done that are very good and fair. You no longer have to make that decision. You can wait until you’ve received the discovery that you’re entitled to before deciding whether to take an offered plea. Frequently, a better plea offer will be made once information favorable to the defendant has been disclosed. Sometimes, the discovery information will encourage the defendant to fight the case all the way through trial. The important thing is that defendants can no longer be pressured into accepting a plea without full knowledge of the evidence against him.

For more information on Criminal Defense, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 793-5700 today.

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