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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Can a social media post result in criminal charges?

Can a social media post result in criminal charges?

If you’ve spent any time on social media, it’s likely that you read abusive and oftentimes offensive statements posted or left as comments. Most people are under the assumption the things said online are without repercussions. However, that may not be the case.

Perhaps you remember hearing about Justin Olsen, an 18-year-old Ohio man who was arrested last year on federal charges after investigators claimed that he made multiple entries online posting his support of mass shootings, and cited a target of Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of Olsen telling the FBI that his posts were “only a joke”, he was booked on state charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, and the federal charge of threatening a federal law enforcement officer.

Although Olsen’s charges are considered to be severe for online behavior, a malicious or threatening post may qualify as defamation. Defamation is the publication of a statement about someone that hurts their reputation in the eyes of members of society.

Online actions can have severe consequences.

You may remember a case where social media played a major part in a case against two football players who were eventually found guilty of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

The victim says she doesn’t remember much of what happened the night when Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, assaulted her at a friend’s party, and that she only became aware of it after a video surfaced on social media. A key piece of evidence was an Instagram photo of the boys carrying the girl out of the house by her arms and legs.

That being said, photos and videos, whether posted publicly or obtained by police, have to meet certain criteria:

  • They must be authenticated, meaning the prosecutors have to prove the images are what they seem and have not been altered or staged;
  • they can not be shown out of context

Additional charges were later brought against two teenage girls in the same case after police were shown twitter posts threatening the physical harm to the victim if she didn’t drop the charges.

Can I be arrested for posting a video?

Richard Godbehere uploaded a 5-minute video of himself driving, cracking open a beer, then proceeding to take a drink. He then stated “We all know drinking and driving is against the law. You’re not supposed to do that. But they didn’t say anything about driving and then drinking.”

A joke, maybe. Against the law, definitely. He was surprised when the police showed up at his house prepared to arrest him on charges of consuming alcohol while operating a vehicle.

He stated the video was meant as a parody and claimed there wasn’t actually beer in the bottle, to which Police Chief Darryl Perry stated: “Our traffic laws are in place for a reason, and Mr. Godbehere’s blatant disregard for those laws is the type of behavior that won’t be tolerated.”

The moral of the story, be careful what you say online. It can, and will be used against you in a court of law.

If you or someone you love is in need of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, call Nathan Akamine.

Should Vehicle Searches Based on Odor Be Allowed?

Should Vehicle Searches Based on Odor Be Allowed?

We all had a scratch and sniff book growing up. We would marvel at how accurately the artificial scent matched the real thing. But there are legal consequences to an officer detecting an odor of marijuana. If an officer smells cannabis coming from your car, everything and everyone in your vehicle can be searched.

This is because the odor of cannabis supposedly provides an officer probable cause that there is illegal marijuana in the car. Probable cause tends to be a touchy subject. When the law says that a police officer has “probable cause,” what it means is that the officer has reason to believe there is “a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”

But, times are changing. There’s legal marijuana now, hemp, CBD infused everything.

Well, legal hemp and legal marijuana smell exactly like illegal marijuana. So, should the odor of cannabis still provide “probable cause” to search a vehicle? It seems that this position needs to give a little.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a hypothetical. Let’s say you’re stopped for not having your headlights on. When the officer comes to your window, he claims that he smells the odor of cannabis. Based on this, he searches both you and the car. Nothing is found on you, but inside your car, he finds a bag of weed and a pill bottle with some other illegal drug. You end up facing drug charges, or even marijuana dui charges.

Related article: Can someone get a DUI for using CBD oil?

In theory, we could file a Motion to Suppress all the evidence found in the car, arguing that the officer didn’t have probable cause to search because the scent of marijuana could have been from a perfectly legal substance.

Effective July 30, 2019, Senate Bill 1020 (the “Hemp” Bill) makes the cannabis plant legal in the State of Ohio. This creates a problem for law enforcement because the plant is exactly the same as a marijuana plant, however, it is used for the THC content only. So not only does it smell like fresh illegal cannabis, it looks exactly like illegal marijuana. In fact, it takes a lab test to sort out the difference.

So the question remains, is there still “a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found?”

Most states have made medical marijuana legal, but still permit a search of a vehicle based upon the odor of cannabis, but I’m not convinced that the odor of cannabis will always provide probable cause for a search.

For another hypothetical, let’s say you have a bunch of cars parked outside of a legal medical marijuana dispensary. Let’s say law enforcement waits until a patient pulls out of the dispensary parking lot, then pulls the car over. The officer searches the car based upon the odor of fresh cannabis. Does this still qualify a legal search?

A change in the probable cause policy is sure to be re-evaluated in the future, but till then, if you’ve been charged with possession of illegal drugs, I’m here to help.

Call Nathan Akamine.