5 Ways to Fight Drug Possession Charges

5 Ways to Fight Drug Possession Charges

If you’re facing drug charges, the uncertainty of your future can be scary. You could be facing severe penalties.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself and prove your innocence.

1. Knowing search and seizure

What were the circumstances surrounding your arrest? If the police entered your home or car without probable cause, a warrant, or your permission, then they violated your Fourth Amendment rights.

As such, any drugs or substances taken as evidence cannot be used against you in court. After the substances are dismissed as evidence – the charges usually follow.

2. Obtaining the chain of custody

Evidence collected by the police will begin a sequential chain of custody. Chain of custody is the movement and location of physical evidence from the time it’s obtained until the time it is presented in court.

Evidence rooms and labs can get extremely busy. It’s not unusual for the police or prosecution to misplace evidence while it goes between detectives and evidence rooms. We’ll examine the proof of the chain of custody. If the prosecution cannot find the substances seized from you, they must dismiss your charges.

3. Proving ownership

Circumstantial evidence may be enough to detain you, but it also creates doubt in a jury’s mind. There is a possibility that drugs found in your home or car don’t belong to you. Prosecutors will link any illegal items found in your possession to you, but a skilled defense lawyer will help break that link.

4. Lab analysis

If the police took something from you that they suspected was drugs, but you know it’s not, the lab results should come back negative. But what if the seized substances come back positive as an illegal drug?

As your lawyer, we’ll question crime lab results. It’s possible that the substance they seized was lost in the chain of custody, or that the prosecution may have submitted the wrong evidence to the lab. The results of a crime lab may be the salvation you need to prove your innocence.

5. Were you framed?

While most officers of the law are upstanding members of the police force, there are those that are unethical. If you think you’ve been framed, talk to a lawyer and give them the specifics of your arrest.

Let’s look at two examples;

  • Entrapment
    Entrapment happens when a law enforcement agent has you commit a crime you wouldn’t normally do. An officer of the law cannot force you to buy, sell, take, or hold drugs under any kind of threat.
  • Planted Evidence
    Planted evidence is an item that has been placed at a scene. Planted evidence is not admissible in court. As technology advances, more police departments are using body cameras for the protection of both the accused and the police. However, some have covered their cameras or turned them off when they do something they shouldn’t.

A good lawyer will know to request all body camera footage, question officers if the cameras were turned off, and get all radio transmissions and texts during your arrest. It’s also a good idea to review the disciplinary history of the arresting officer(s).

Protect your freedom

Together we will fight to protect your freedom, your future, and your reputation.

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How to Choose the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

How to Choose the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it’s in your best interest to seek legal counsel immediately. Even seemingly minor crimes can still result in a criminal record and harsh sentences, and having a record can haunt you for years, limiting your life, from where you work to where you live.

The reality is, when it comes to criminal defense, not all lawyers are created equal. The outcome of your case is largely dependent on having the right lawyer fighting for you. A Google search turns up thousands of results. All claiming to be the right attorney for you. So, how do you know who to choose?

Although the nature and severity of the alleged crime will factor heavily into how your case is handled, any person who is charged with a crime should ensure that their lawyer meets all of the following criteria.

1. Experience with the Charges You are Facing

Hiring an attorney who specializes in white collar crimes may not be the best choice to fight your sexual assault charge. Criminal law is complex and ever evolving, so it’s essential to work with a lawyer who has extensive experience in the specific crime with which you’ve been charged.

Do your homework and hire a lawyer who has a deep understanding of exactly what you’re going through.

2. Comfortability

Most law firms offer a free initial consultation. I recommend taking advantage of it. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and see how you interact together. Personal chemistry is an underrated, yet very important factor when choosing legal representation. If you don’t feel comfortable with your lawyer, the legal process is going to be unnecessarily long and painful, and the outcome is less likely to be favorable.

The best lawyer-client relationships are collaborative. When you trust your lawyer, the relationship becomes more of a partnership, and the chances of a successful outcome increase dramatically.

Use these questions as a guide to determine if the lawyer you’re interviewing is right for you.

  • Am I comfortable talking openly to them?
  • Does my lawyer explain things in a way that I can understand?
  • Does my lawyer seem genuinely concerned about me and the outcome of my case?
  • Does my lawyer seem trustworthy?
  • Does my lawyer appear confident?

3. Word of Mouth and Online Reviews

One of the best ways to find a good defense lawyer is word of mouth. If you know someone who has been in a similar situation, ask who they used for legal counsel and if they were happy with their results. However, just because a lawyer was a good fit for someone else, doesn’t make them a good fit for you. So, don’t just take a name and run with it. Make sure you have the consultation, then do some online digging. With the wealth of information available on the internet, there is no excuse to not do your homework.

Choosing the right defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Check the state bar association website to see if the lawyer has a record of formal discipline, and search for reviews on Facebook and Google.

IMPORTANT TIP: Although reviews can assist in guiding you, they should not be taken as the deciding factor in your end decision.

One bad review shouldn’t necessarily keep you from working with a particular lawyer, but several bad reviews should be a clear red flag. The same goes for good reviews. Just because a lawyer has 2,000 good reviews and another has 200, doesn’t mean one lawyer is better than the other. A criminal case is a personal and private matter that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable sharing with the world. So, don’t let a lack of reviews stop you from scheduling a consultation either.

4. Courtroom Confidence

If your case moves to trial, you want to know that your lawyer has confidence in the courtroom. In addition to specifically asking about courtroom experience, a lawyer’s appearance and demeanor can give big clues as to how they will perform in a courtroom. If they are neatly dressed, well spoken, and confident, these characteristics will bode well in a courtroom setting.

On the other hand, if a lawyer appears nervous or disheveled, their arguments may be less convincing to a judge and jury. As with most things, exceptions exist, but confidence is generally the hallmark of any successful trial lawyer.

It is also important that your lawyer can take direction from you. Although they will control certain aspects of your case, like filing motions and calling witnesses, the big decisions, like whether to plead guilty or go to trial, or whether to try to make a deal, are YOUR call. Look for an attorney who takes the time to get to know you and your goals, and who actively integrates your input into the legal strategy.

5. Listen to Your Gut

At the end of the day, trust your instincts. If something feels off, don’t be afraid to walk away. Remember, you are interviewing the defense lawyer, not the other way around. Ultimately, this is your battle to fight, and you need the right lawyer by your side if you’re going to win.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges and in need of an experienced criminal lawyer, please contact Nathan Akamine.

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Violating probation: What to expect.

Violating probation: What to expect.

If you’ve violated probation and now find yourself facing a possible conviction, you don’t deserve punishment due to an oversight or accident, regardless of why you’re serving probation. As your probation violation attorney, my number one priority will be convincing the judge not to inflict severe repercussions for a simple fault in judgment.

What can I expect from the probation violation process?

Although different than a normal criminal case, probation violations generally follow the same process:

  1. Your probation officer will inform the court that you have violated one or more probation requirements.
  2. The court will schedule a probation hearing and/or authorize a warrant for your arrest.
  3. If you’re arrested, there will be a hearing and a bond could be set.
  4. You’ll receive a Statement of Violations, where you’ll be informed of the terms of probation that you allegedly violated.
  5. You are entitled to a Probable Cause hearing to determine if there is a reasonable basis for the alleged violation.
  6. You are also entitled to an Evidentiary Hearing in which the State must prove that a violation did occur.

What are the possible consequences of violating probation?

  • Perform community service
  • The length of your probation may be extended.
  • There may be additional restrictions added to your probation, such as an earlier curfew.
  • You may be forced to have regular drug testing or ordered into drug treatment.
  • You could be ordered to attend classes or programs based on the offense (such as anger management).
  • Counseling with a therapist on a regular basis.
  • You could be sentenced to serve time in jail.

Whichever judge assigned the initial probation ruling will also be the judge determining the appropriate punishment for the violation. This is important to note, since they may feel as though they did the defendant a favor when worse consequences could have been originally dealt. Because of this, the judge could decide a harsher punishment than is now necessary.

Therefore, it’s important to your case to have a probation violation attorney speak on your behalf, as this can make the difference between fulfilling a minor repercussion or serving jail time.

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DUI: 8 Vital Things to Remember

DUI: 8 Vital Things to Remember

Memorial Day is upon us. The unofficial “official” start of summer. This time of year sees a dramatic increase in DUI arrests. Between backyard barbecues and pool parties, many people are less vigilant about staying sober when they know they’ll be driving, or refusing to drive at all when they have been drinking.

Of course, the best way to avoid a DUI is to avoid drinking at all, but if you find yourself facing a DUI charge, here are some things you’ll want to know.

1.You can get a DUI even if you don’t feel drunk.

There is no scale that tips when your blood alcohol content goes from 0.07 percent to 0.09 percent. You don’t suddenly feel drunk or start falling over. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the difference between a BAC of 0.05 and 0.08 includes effects like:

  • Difficulty detecting danger
  • Impaired self-control
  • Diminished muscle coordination
  • Problems controlling speed

These are hardly measurable effects, and there may still be no outward or visible indication of intoxication, even at 0.08 percent. Because of this, people might feel completely comfortable having another drink. In the eyes of the law, someone who is just barely over the legal limit can face the same penalties as someone who is clearly displaying signs of intoxication. However, breath and blood tests can be wrong. Read more about their possible inaccuracies here.

2. Be Polite

If you’re pulled over by a police officer under suspicion of driving under the influence, it is imperative that you be polite with him or her at all times. Even if you are severely intoxicated, you should do your best to comply with the officer’s requests. Do not argue with a police officer under any circumstances. Remember that poor behavior can affect you adversely later in court.

3. Your car might be towed

If you’re charged with a DUI, the officer will transport you to the police station in a patrol car. Your vehicle will probably be towed at your expense, and you’ll be notified as to which company has towed your vehicle and will be given the contact information to retrieve it. Contact the towing company that impounded your vehicle as soon as possible and arrange for it to be picked up and pay all towing costs.

4. Booked, processed, contact your lawyer.

After you arrive at the police station, you can expect to wait for up to several hours before being processed. If this is your first offense, the process will take longer. Your fingerprints and mugshot will be taken and an investigator or other police officer may ask you questions about the circumstances of your driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You will be given the opportunity to contact your attorney if you feel you are being wrongly accused. This is extremely important…ask for a lawyer. Contact DUI Defense Attorney Nathan Akamine.

5. You may be incarcerated, you may be released.

The length of time you stay at the police station depends on several factors, including the location of your DUI, your age, criminal record, the severity of your intoxication, as well as other factors. If you’re to be released on bond, you will be given the opportunity to contact a bondsman, friend, or relative to arrange for the amount to be paid and for someone to pick you up from the police station. In some cases, you will be incarcerated immediately. Nevertheless, be prepared to remain at the police station for a minimum of several hours before the logistics of your DUI charge are settled.

6. You’ll go before a Judge.

If charged with a DUI, you will likely have to appear in court to receive your sentencing. You will have the option of using your own attorney or being appointed one by the court. Remain calm and respectful during the court proceedings at all costs. Answer any questions truthfully and make sure you do so with your attorney by your side. If you fail to appear in court the judge will most likely issue a warrant for your arrest.

7. Community service and/or fines.

Some drivers who are convicted with DUI are required to complete community service or court referral programs. If you’re one of them, complete these programs as soon as possible so that it can be reported back to the court that you have fulfilled your sentencing. Remember to pay any fines in full as soon as you are able. Typically, there are payment plan options available.

8. Long-term consequences.

If you get a DUI, the charge will likely stay on your record for several years, if not permanently. Potential employers will be able to view these records before they hire you, so if you’re planning to look for a new job in the near future, be upfront and honest about your DUI charge. It’s better to explain the situation beforehand than appear to be covering it up.

Of course, be careful this summer. Use Uber, Lyft, or a designated driver. However, should the worst happen and you do get arrested for a DUI, contact DUI attorney Nathan Akamine as soon as possible for legal help.

 

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Common Mistakes After DUI Arrest

Common Mistakes After DUI Arrest

A DUI arrest can be terrifying. You’re removed from your vehicle and humiliated on the side of the road. An arrest for suspected drunk driving can have severe consequences and is a much more serious matter than getting a simple traffic ticket, so you need to respond assertively and aggressively. It’s important to develop an appropriate response to try to protect yourself from any consequences like the loss of your driver’s license, more expensive insurance premiums, or even jail time.

Unfortunately, most people aren’t sure how to respond after a DUI arrest, which can lead to mistakes that make conviction far more likely. Here are the top mistakes people make after being arrested for a DUI.

Avoid Making These Mistakes After A DUI Arrest:

  1. Failure to request a hearing within 30 days following your arrest.
    Refusal to take a blood-alcohol concentration or BAC test, as well as failing a BAC test showing results above .08 will result in an automatic license suspension. What most people don’t know is that you have a 30 days period immediately following the arrest to request an Administrative Hearing to try to protect your license.

2. Assuming a failed BAC test means a conviction is inevitable.
If you undergo a chemical test and are found to have drugs or alcohol in your system, it’s easy to assume that there isn’t much you can do and that you’ll be convicted. This isn’t always the case. The prosecutor still has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are ways to introduce doubt about whether a chemical test was accurate. It’s also a possibility that you may be able to prevent the evidence from the failed test from being used against you, like if your Constitutional rights were violated during evidence collection.

3. Providing police with evidence.
It may seem obvious, you don’t want to provide police with evidence to use against you, but it happens more often than you think. You should always refrain from answering questions or volunteering information. Exercise your right to remain silent. Ask for a lawyer before answering questions. following your arrest, it’s always a good idea to be careful what you post on social media. Don’t assume anything you say online will be private and definitely don’t ever comment on being under the influence at the time of your arrest.

4. Not immediately retaining a lawyer.
Not all attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to effectively represent clients in DUI and OVI cases. You need to contact a qualified and experienced attorney with a good reputation to assist you. The amount of time you wait before hiring a DUI Defense lawyer could be critical when it comes to the outcome of your case.

These are just a few of the possible mistakes that defendants could make. Make smart and informed choices and ensure that you do everything possible to try to avoid a conviction. Your best option is to talk with an experienced DUI Defense Attorney. Akamine Law has helped thousands of clients in Columbus and throughout the surrounding area. Give us a call as soon as possible following your arrest.

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