Friday, April 7, 2017

The Philadelphia Drug Attorney Guide to Drug Sniffing Dogs

If you have been charged with a controlled substance crime in Philadelphia, you will need the help of an experienced drug lawyer. The laws are incredibly complex, and no two cases are exactly alike. However, this guide to drug sniffing dogs can help give you some background, so you’re better prepared for your Philadelphia drug attorney consultations and for the case as it unfolds.

An Officer Must Have Reasonable Suspicion to Search

Regardless of the situation, you have a right under the law to be protected from unlawful search and seizure. This means that before an officer searches the inside of a vehicle, he must have probable cause. There must be evidence that shows why the officer had reasonable suspicion to believe you were involved in a crime. He is not legally allowed to act on a hunch, but he can search if he sees evidence in plain sight or smells marijuana. Philadelphia officers have also been known to use questionable tactics to either gain access to your vehicle or to get you to consent to a search. The initial hearing is referred to as a “probable cause hearing,” because this is when it’s established whether the officer had it and the case can commence.

It’s worth noting that a drug sniffing dog can be called to the scene, regardless of whether probable cause exists or not. The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Illinois v. Caballes upheld law enforcement’s right to have a dog on the scene. In this case, a man named Roy Caballes was stopped for speeding. A drug sniffing dog was brought to his car and the dog “alerted,” or signaled to officers that there were drugs in his vehicle. Officers searched the vehicle, and Mr. Caballes was subsequently charged with marijuana trafficking.  

There are a few caveats to this ruling, though. For instance, an officer is not allowed to hold a suspect for a lengthy period of time while waiting for a dog to come to the scene. He must proceed normally during a traffic stop, and only keep you long enough to run your tags, check your license, and issue a ticket, if one is warranted. If he does not follow standard protocol, utilization of the drug sniffing dog becomes suspect.

You Do Not Have to Agree to Wait or Consent to a Search

If an officer believes you have an illegal substance, but he does not have probable cause to search, he may ask you for permission to search your vehicle. He may also ask you to wait for the dog to arrive on the scene. These are requests that you do not have to comply with, and you can simply say, “I don’t want to stay. May I leave?” An unscrupulous officer may push the limits and try to strong-arm you into it, and your actions may be scrutinized as well. If you open your door or give your keys to the officer, a judge may construe it as consent to search.

Drug Sniffing Dogs are Not Always Reliable

Canines have truly amazing noses, with more than 200 million receptors, compared to a human’s paltry 10 million. Some breeds can even track scents under water, which makes them a boon for officers trying to outsmart criminals with various wrappers and scent decoys. However, the animals are not accurate 100-percent of the time, and their precision has been called into question in courts of law before. The American Society of Canine Trainers (ASCT) even admits to the incredibly poor accuracy rates of medicine smelling canines, pointing out averages as low as 62% (Currency Searches, 2015).

There are many causes for this low rate of accuracy. For starters, canines have such sensitive noses that they can pick up trace scents, even after a drug is no longer present. Plus, a lot of how a drug sniffing dog behaves comes down to his training and handling. There are presently no national standards for accreditation when it comes to this training, either. On top of this, it’s not always possible to verify why a dog alerted. Though this generally means that the dog sits when he picks up a scent, he may sit because the officer gave him an alternate signal, either intentionally or unintentionally, or because he’s resting. In some cases, a dog might simply sit because he has been walked slowly around a vehicle repeatedly.

When to Call A Philadelphia Drug Attorney

Even though officers are in a position of power, they are not always right. If you feel that you were treated unfairly or that your rights were violated, you should reach out to a competent drug lawyer, such as those we feature on this site. To learn more about the specifics of your case, review the profiles listed here and schedule your free consultations right away.

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The Drug Lawyer Handbook: The Suppression Hearing

Any competent drug lawyer understands that the Fourth Amendment is the central concern in an interstate drug stop case. The federal government must prove that every part of the traffic stop, from the interrogation, to the search, detention, and the stop itself, was conducted properly. Moreover, law enforcement must demonstrate that the officer had probable cause to believe that a traffic infraction occurred or that there was a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Without this, any evidence gathered was gathered illegally, and is not admissible in court.

Occasionally, a drug lawyer can effectively argue that the officer did not have reasonable cause to stop the motor vehicle. In some situations. the motorist’s conduct clearly did not constitute a traffic violation, though most of the time, the event is recorded on the officer’s front dashboard video, and the cause of the stop is readily apparent. What occurs after the stop, however, is often more of a gray area. A competent attorney will focus heavily on this timeframe, and may be able to prove that the officer abused his power or acted unlawfully, generally by using one of the inappropriate tactics detailed below.

Invalid Consent

Many times, Philadelphia police officers will ask the motorist for permission to search the vehicle. If the officers do not get the consent they are looking for, a drug dog will often be summoned to smell the air around the car so as to give them probable cause to carry out a search. If the officer does not have reasonable suspicion, and cannot demonstrate that he had just cause to hold an individual, it amounts to illegal apprehension or detainment, even if this means the individual was held for an excessive amount of time while waiting for a K-9 to arrive on the scene.

Unlawful Search

Even when an officer has enough reasonable suspicion to stop the driver, this does not indicate that he has probable cause to search. Sometimes, an officer may ask one of the occupants for consent to go through his or her bags. However, the occupant cannot give consent for the vehicle to be searched unless he or she is the lawful owner. When the occupant alone allows, the officer can only search the occupant’s belongings, but the law enforcement agent may proceed to search the vehicle driver’s bags without his consent. Other times, an officer may allow a drug dog to sniff inside the vehicle. Without probable cause or consent from the vehicle’s owner, this too, usually amounts to an unlawful search.

Unlawful Detention

Authorities can not unreasonably restrain or hold an individual during a regular traffic stop, and once it concludes, the motorist is free to go. The only time an arrest can be made is if law enforcement has reasonable suspicion to believe that a law has been or is being broken and they have probable cause to arrest. Sometimes a police officer will hold an individual for questioning throughout the traffic stop to build suspicion, including asking every person in the car about where they have been and where they are heading.

If authorities have reasonable suspicion that the vehicle’s driver or its occupants are involved in criminal activity, they might detain everyone and call for a drug dog to establish probable cause to search. However, the duration of the detention needs to be reasonable. The real question becomes whether the policeman had reasonable suspicion to apprehend to begin with. Often times, the policeman’s hunch can be contested in court.

If consent is not given or probable cause is not established, authorities will likely call a drug dog to the scene to smell the automobile. Drug dogs trained in Philadelphia are utilized as passive indicators, meaning that when the dog walks around the outside of the vehicle, it will try to find the source of contraband if it is present. It will then show an interest by doing what handlers refer to as an “alert.” This means that dog sits at the place where the odor is the greatest. Occasionally, it can be verified that the canine did not sit or was either purposefully or inadvertently cued by the canine handler. Furthermore, though drug dogs are skilled and trained very well, they are not always precise. In some cases, evidence obtained after a drug canine “alerted” can be suppressed if the animal has been undependable or given false alerts in the past.

Canine Training

It has to be established that the dog’s smell is reliable and that it offered probable reason to look. Oftentimes, it is extremely helpful for the defense to work with skilled witnesses to help examine information to supply an outside perspective. Through this approach, it may be established whether the dog was accurately trained.

Unreliability of a Drug Dog

Drug sniffing dogs are trained to alert to the smell of narcotics. In some cases, however, they can falsely show a smell where no drugs exist because they are just suggesting the presence of an odor. If a drug canine warns to the smell of marijuana, it can be that a person riding in the vehicle smoked marijuana and had the aroma on their clothes, or that the animal is only smelling residue on money, which is not uncommon. On the other hand, if it has been revealed through other instances that the dog has a reliable track record, the dog will likely be deemed reliable by the court.

Other Probable Cause

One more factor for a possible cause to search is if the motorist mentions that he only has a personal quantity of marijuana. The cop then may go through the entire automobile when the driver makes this admission. In the past, Philadelphia police have badgered motorists regarding their individual marijuana usage to the point of violating Fifth Amendment rights. In this case, an experienced drug lawyer can have the statement effectively thrown out as evidence.

Drug Attorney Philadelphia

If you or a loved one is facing drug charges in Philadelphia, you must have an attorney who is well-versed in constitutional rights as well. When your rights have been violated, whether by one of the aforementioned tactics or by other means, any evidence gathered is generally deemed inadmissible in court. Without evidence, the entire case is usually dismissed. Throughout the pages of this website, you’ll find the profiles of skilled litigators who will follow every avenue available to ensure your case has the best outcome possible. Take a moment to review the profiles, and then schedule consultations swiftly, so you can begin building your defense right away.

The post The Drug Lawyer Handbook: The Suppression Hearing appeared first on Philadelphia Drug Lawyers.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Reefer Madness Hits Colorados Toddlers

Colorado hospitals are seeing a spike in emergency room visits for children who have ingested their parents edibles.”>

Marijuana-related emergency room visits for children under 10 have increased dramatically in Colorado since the states recreational marijuana amendment went into effect in 2014, according to a new study in JAMA Pediatrics.

Its not exactly reefer madness but the authors believe that the sudden spike in the number of kids accidentally ingesting their parents edibles can be attributed to legalization.

To track these cases, researchers from the University of Colorado and the Denver Health and Hospital Authority retroactively examined 163 incidents of marijuana exposure between 2009 and 2015 at Childrens Hospital Colorado in Aurora and a regional poison center.


The average age of the children involved in these incidents was 2.4 years old. When a source of marijuana could be identified, cannabis-infused edibles like candy, cookies, and brownies were found to be responsible 48 percent of the time.

Here at Childrens Hospital Colorado we saw an increase from one child we saw in the emergency department in 2009 to 16 in 2015, said Dr. G. Sam Wang, the lead author of the study, in a press release. And at the regional poison center, we had nine calls for kids between [ages] zero and nine in 2009 increase fivefold to 47 in 2015.

Dr. Wang said that the majority of the cases happened at home, with the children later presenting symptoms of lethargy and sleepiness. Some cases were more serious, he added, requiring tracheal intubation to treat coma or respiratory depression.

Overall, the authors found that the average rate of marijuana-related visits to the childrens hospital had shot up from 1.2 per 100,000 children two years prior legalization to 2.3 per 100,000 two years afterwarda trend that suggests that [recreational] legalization did affect the incidence of exposures.

Two more findings shore up this hypothesis: Not only did Colorados increase in marijuana-related calls for young children outpace such increases in the rest of the country, but nearly half of the cases after legalization involved recreational rather than medical marijuana.

Many accidental exposures to marijuana can be avoided with better parental supervision and more secure packaging for edibles. Nearly 10 percent of the exposure cases in the JAMA Pediatrics study involved containers that were not child-resistant. In 34 percent of these cases, the problem was poor child supervision or product storage.


In February of this year, for example, a Wisconsin man had to take his 3-year-old son to the hospital after the boy accidentally ate marijuana-infused candy that had been left within reach of children during a birthday party. As WISN reported, the Sheboygan police report said the boy was breathing but otherwise minimally responsive when he was taken to the ER.

The boy survived after being treated in a childrens hospital; the father was later charged with child neglect.

Wang suggests that, as more states legalize weed, they should think about proper regulations and rules to help prevent some of these exposures and ingestions. He also believes that researchers should continue to examine the impacts or lack thereof of Colorados current regulations around the packaging of recreational marijuana.

Colorado currently requires edibles to be individually packaged within child-resistant containers designed to be difficult to open for children under the age of 5 (PDF). But once removed from that packaging at home, a brownie by any other name is apparently just as tempting for little fingers.

Read more:

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Traffic stop leads to drug trafficking charge

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A man was charged with drug trafficking following a traffic stop Tuesday in Twin Falls County.

Alan F. Akberdin, 37, was arraigned in Twin Falls County Court Thursday on possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

On Tuesday at about 6:47 p.m., Akberdin was arrested by a Twin Falls County deputy near 2700 East and Wildflower Lane. Court documents said the deputy pulled Akberdin over after he allegedly drove more than the posted speed limit. Police said the K9 later alerted on the vehicle and Akberdin admitted to possessing methamphetamine in his vehicle, according to court documents.

A Twin Falls County sheriff deputy and Idaho Fish and Game officer arrived to at the scene to assist.

The office initially issued a citation for a speeding violation. Akberdin asked the deputy what the reason was for having the K9 do a free air sniff on the car, and the officer said he didn’t need probable cause for the K9 to conduct a free air sniff and that he could use his dog on any traffic stop, according to court documents.

Akberdin asked if he did anything wrong, and the officer cited speeding, crossing driving lines, stopping in the center of the road and not being able to find information the officer requested, according to court documents.

After the K9 alerted for drugs on the car, police found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Police also seized cash and some pills that were found.

Akberdin’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 12. He was booked at the Twin Falls County Jail and his bond was set at $50,000.


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8 Reasons to Change Marijuana Laws

There is a growing movement to change marijuana laws within each state, though cannabis remains illegal on a federal level. Although the government has taken a hands-off approach, and no longer enforces federal laws in states that have legalized it, many people believe that the feds should step up and change marijuana laws across the board. The following contains the top arguments in support of changing not just Philadelphia marijuana laws, but policies all over the country.

1. Restriction Has Been a Failure

Reports that the war on drugs has been successful is entirely unsupported by evidence. For over 75 years, the government has tried to use criminal penalties, but the restriction has failed to regulate the use and production of marijuana. As of today, over 25 million people use marijuana every year, making it the leading cash crop in the United States. Any notion that marijuana will be abolished from this country or from the planet is more than a fantasy.

2. It Will Reduce Gang Activities

It makes a lot of sense: The illegality of anything is going to make it more in demand than if it were legal. Marijuana’s illegality makes foreign cultivation and smuggling to the United States an enormously profitable business for drug cartels and gangs. They send billions into the underground economy of other nations who may be aggressive to the US. The same can be said for domestic drug dealing. Though the use of tobacco and alcohol continue to be a major health problem, even though they are legal, the availability of these two products gives people less incentive to sell them on the black market. If the sale of marijuana were legal, then teenagers would experience more difficulty making easy money selling it to their colleagues and peers.

3. Legalizing Marijuana is Safer for the Community

Regulations have historically related to public safety and security. Take, for example, the restaurant industry, which has to be assessed for health violations, or pharmaceutical companies, who need to hand in their products to the FDA for testing. The marijuana business would work the same way. Moderating marijuana would displace the underground market, making it harder for minors to get the drug, while making it easier to hold specific pot dealers more accountable for foul play, and assuring consumers get quality products without deadly additives.

4. It’s a Profitable Agricultural Commodity

Revising marijuana laws can result in billions of dollars in tax revenue. The induction of Colorado’s Amendment 64 brought in greater than $30 million of taxable revenue for their budget. If California taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana, it could raise yearly revenue by $1.4 billion. If marijuana is legalized federally, the marijuana industry could probably be three times larger than the NFL, which could all be taxed, saving the US $13.7 billion a year. Even if recreational marijuana use was not legalized, the US is still missing a prime business opportunity to support legal hemp development, like Canada and Europe have. It is also essential to develop hemp as a biofuel source, as a method of decreasing carbon emissions. Hemp stalks will also not increase demand and prices for food, like corn does.

5. Marijuana is Much Safer than Alcohol

Testing has reported that using marijuana is markedly safer than drinking alcohol. In fact, for every thousand regular alcohol drinkers there are eight more trips to the E.R then for every thousand marijuana users. In short, you are 30% more likely to get sent to the E.R. for alcohol than marijuana. It is an established scientific truth that overdosing off of marijuana is practically impossible. Marijuana is also not as addictive as alcohol or tobacco.

6. Marijuana is Costing Our Court System

On average, over 750,000 individuals get apprehended for marijuana possession every year. The duties of law enforcement are too vast to focus on marijuana offenders, and it is far too costly for our justice system to deal with every one of these cases. It reduces space, clogs up the court systems and diverts time away from attorneys, judges, and corrections officers. Their energy would be better used on cases entailing violent crimes and terrorism. What’s more, taxing marijuana would generate the money required to finance important criminal justice and social programs.

7. Marijuana has Medicinal Value

Though for decades the restrictions on marijuana have hampered in-depth scientific study into the risks and health benefits of marijuana, there is considerable documentation that it can actually lessen many medical ailments, such as:

Pain: 70-80 % of patients encounter pain relief when using medical marijuana.

Glaucoma: Marijuana reduces intraocular pressure, and reduces damage to the optic nerve.

Epileptic Seizures: Cannabinoids control seizures by binding to the brain cells in charge of regulating excitability and managing relaxation.

Cancer: In a few studies, cannabidiol has been discovered to stop cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Studies have found that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, slows down the buildup of amyloid plaques by obstructing the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques are what eradicate brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS): University of Nottingham researchers found that chemicals in marijuana, such as THC and cannabidiol, interact with cells in the system that play an essential part in gut function and immune responses.

Anxiety: Studies imply that a few of the drug’s benefits may actually boost the smoker’s mood and act as a sedative in reduced doses.

Lung Wellness: In a research study, tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot smokers actually showed an increase in lung capacity.

8. Legalization is Imminent

Currently, four states and Washington D.C. approve of recreational marijuana use, while 19 states permit it for medical reasons, and 14 have decriminalized it. Alaska, Oregon, Washington are already in the process of introducing a model whereby marijuana can be legally sold, taxed and regulated. In the 19 states where medical marijuana is permitted, regulation varies so extensively regarding the requirements for receiving a medical marijuana card that it ultimately assumes a quasi-legal status. Like with medical marijuana, states that decriminalized marijuana vary a great deal in their laws. In the 14 states that have decriminalized marijuana, the penalties have lightened considerably that the courts are commonly reducing or eliminating jail time and opting for fines instead.

Obviously, Philadelphia marijuana laws remain unchanged, as does the federal law, despite an overwhelming amount of evidence and public support of change. If you are caught with it in Pennsylvania, you will face charges, whether it’s a small amount or you’re accused of something more serious, like trafficking or selling.  If you or a loved one is fighting a court case due to Philadelphia marijuana laws, you’ll need the help of an experienced attorney. Review the profiles listed on this site, and begin scheduling your free case evaluations today.

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Can I Sue For A False Drug Arrest?

There are many reasons why a drug arrest may be considered to be unlawful or false. At its core, it involves being unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and it occurs with alarming frequency. Often times, the false drug arrest is spurred by another individual making a false claim, and though the information is unproven, law enforcement takes it at face value. It may also occur as a direct result of an officer or detective using inappropriate or coercive interview tactics. In any case, an individual is unlawfully held against his will, which is in direct violation of his civil rights, and gives the individual grounds to sue.

Unlawful Detainment by Law Enforcement

While it is illegal for an individual to resist arrest, it is not unlawful to disrespect an officer, to refuse a search, or to remain silent. In some cases, however, the officer takes personal offense to this behavior, and makes a drug arrest before he has cause to do so. If this occurs, it’s best for the victim to go along with the officer, to avoid receiving additional charges and possibly being injured while resisting, but because the officer is breaking the law, he may be reprimanded for his behavior. This is certainly grounds for a civil suit, and may also be of benefit if the victim is part of a marijuana bust, or is later charged with possession and other substance-related crimes.

Unlawful Detainment by Private Individuals

Any individual that limits another person without that person’s consent and also without eminent domain commits the criminal offense of false arrest. This can include any individual who is not a law enforcement agent, though security guards are frequent perpetrators. Although private security guards are legally allowed to momentarily restrain a person they believe is guilty of burglary while they assess the situation or as they wait for law enforcement to arrive, they may only do so if they have proof that the person they are holding is guilty. For example, if a security guard has not seen a particular individual stealing, the act has no witnesses, and there is no video footage of the crime, he may not use force, the threat of pressure, or limit the customer without consent. If he does, then it is considered unlawful detainment.

The Difference Between False Arrests and Bad Arrests

Law enforcement and the court system often rely on statements given by people who have firsthand knowledge of events. When an individual gives a sworn statement, whether under oath in court or to officers, and officials believe the claim has merit, it may be trusted. In this case, it is lawful for police to detain. However, if it is later determined that the sworn statement was false or that the individual making the claim lied, it is referred to as a “bad arrest.” In this situation, the individual who made the false claims may be charged with a crime and may be held accountable for any harm or damage it caused the victim.

You Can Sue for False Accusations

False accusations can ruin a person’s reputation as is often the case when a false claim of child abuse, assault, or possession of an illegal substance is made. A victim of a false allegation such as this has the right to sue for defamation, which may be in the form of slander, libel, or defamation of character.

Defamation of character refers to the act of making incorrect statements about a person which taints his credibility. Something like a smear campaign could either be libelous or slanderous. The difference between the two is how it occurs. Libel indicates any sort of incorrect and damaging published declarations, while slander essentially refers to the same thing, but in spoken form. In order for any of these claims to be successful in court, an individual must have made the declarations maliciously, to hurt the track record of a person for their own personal gain.

Equally, a person may also sue when a false accusation is made, either by police or a private individual. Such case has merit if an individual did not commit a crime and was accused of it, or if a crime has not occurred at all. This could relate to marijuana arrests when the individual has no tie to the crime, and it’s also often seen with fraudulent claims that a child has been abused when the child was never injured, and in numerous other circumstances. Courts take false accusations so seriously that the damage to a person’s character or reputation does not need to be proven.

Overlooking a Civil Right

When a person has been wrongly detained, he may file a complaint alleging his civil rights have been violated. These cases are often referred to as “Section 1983” suits. They are named after the government regulation, United States code section 1983, and are tried in a federal district court.

Individuals typically submit 1983 instances after the use of excessive or unreasonable pressure occurs “under color of law.” This simply refers to law enforcement officials abusing their power. For example, if an officer had a warrant to search an individual’s home, but chose to mace the homeowner in the process for no reason, the homeowner would then have grounds to sue, as his civil rights were violated. To be clear, this type of case may only go forward if the officer was on duty and violated rights while acting as a representative of the law enforcement agency. It wouldn’t be the same if an off-duty officer was moonlighting as a security guard or was off duty as a civilian.  

Retain a Lawyer if You’re a Victim of a False Drug Arrest or Defamation

If you were apprehended by police and the case has no basis, or you believe authorities abused their power or acted inappropriately, it’s important to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away. Your lawyer will work to protect your rights going forward, will gather evidence before it disappears, and will help defend you against the allegations. Unfortunately, many people believe that if they cooperate with authorities and give a statement, it will clear their name, but this is often not the case. Not only can it be detrimental to your defense, but there are many cases on record where law enforcement officials have used coercive tactics to secure a false confession. If you believe your legal rights have been violated as a result of a false arrest, or you require a lawyer to represent you against illegal charges, contact a defense attorney as quickly as possible.

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I Just Got Busted For Drug Possession. What Happens Now?

Busted for Drug Possession: What Happens Next?

If you or someone you know was busted for drug possession, there are many possible offenses this could entail, as well as a myriad of penalties that may come of it. Some cases are tried at a federal level, though this is usually reserved for more serious charges, such as possession with the intent to distribute, or drug trafficking. Most minor drug bust charges are handled at a state level, and each jurisdiction has different guidelines and penalties established. Whether discussing a drug bust in Philadelphia or anywhere else in the country, there are many commonalities in how the courts will handle things.

The Penalties for Drug Possession Will Vary

Drug Possession charges can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. This will be largely based on the type of substance and the quantity discovered. Small amounts that law enforcement believes were intended for personal use will have lesser penalties than larger quantities, simply because greater amounts are more likely to be distributed. Additional time behind bars and fines may be added if the person arrested has a criminal history or if the offense took place in an area where children are present, such as a park, school, or place of worship.

It’s also worth noting that an individual may receive several charges from a single event. Simple possession could become possession with the intent to distribute, and related charges, like driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia may be added. Officers investigating may search for empty packages, bags, scales, and other instruments, to build a case towards a distribution charge. Additionally, police have some discretion as to what they may call a “weapon,” and depending on the circumstances may also apply weapons-related charges on top of the drug charges, too.

There are Some General Guidelines for Penalties

Penalties for drug possession can span from 30 days to 15 years behind bars. Fines typically start at $500 and can exceed $250,000 in some cases. Of course, not everybody who gets busted for weed gets jail time, but, that does not mean that they don’t suffer considerable difficulties from their arrest. Other common outcomes are probation and obligatory drug testing, loss of employment, loss of child custody, removal from subsidized housing, property forfeiture, loss of student aid, loss of voting rights, and the loss of certain federal welfare benefits like food stamps.

The Type of Substance Matters

The government breaks up all illegal and controlled substances into different categories, referred to as “Schedules.” Those that have no medicinal value, that are dangerous, or are most likely to be abused are known as Schedule I drugs. Things like marijuana, meth, and heroin are considered Schedule I substances, while certain prescription medications rank lower on the list. People arrested for infractions involving Schedule I drugs can expect harsher consequences than those involving possession of Schedule III or IV. Equally, the law does not always treat all Schedule I drugs the same, as heroin is more deadly than marijuana, so those with harder drugs are likely to have greater penalties as well.

The federal government still considers marijuana to be illegal in every state. However, officials have agreed not to prosecute people for it in states that have decriminalized it. Given that Pennsylvania has not made this move, a drug bust in Philadelphia for weed is treated very seriously, regardless of the quantity discovered.

How to Fight a Drug Possession Charge

If you’re fighting a drug possession charge, it’s important to have a competent attorney on your side. A seasoned lawyer, such as those we highlight on this site, will look at all the events leading up to the arrest, as well as any evidence gathered. Depending on the circumstances, he may be able to have the charges reduced or dropped. To find out what strategy is best for your situation, review the profiles listed here and begin scheduling your free case evaluations today.

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How to Survive a Traffic Stop Drug Bust

How to Survive a Philadelphia Traffic Stop Drug Bust

The best way to get through a traffic stop drug bust is not to be involved in a traffic stop at all, or at the very least, avoid having any illegal substances. However, Should you ever find yourself in that situation, keep the following things in mind to protect yourself and safeguard your future if the matter goes to court.

Don’t Attempt to Leave

If you try to run or leave the scene, you will be caught, and that will only make matters worse. Always acknowledge the officer by using your signal to indicate you’re switching lanes as you move to the right side of the road. Be sure to pull away from traffic, so that both you and the officer will be safe.

If you conduct yourself in a proper manner the second you see the lights come on behind you, and you behave in a safe manner, you may be able to leave the scene without so much as a citation. However, even little things, like mistakenly pulling to the left side of the road, or failing to signal, can put the officer on edge.

Follow Standard Protocol

Good manners during the stop are helpful as well, and can even prevent your driving infraction from turning into a pot bust. Once you are at the side of the road, remove your keys and place them on the vehicle’s dashboard. It’s a sign to him that you don’t intend to flee. If you’re near traffic, the officer may approach the passenger window, so preemptively roll down whichever window you think he will approach, and then place your hands on the steering wheel, so he can see that you are unarmed. If it’s dark outside, you may also want to turn on the interior light, so he can see you and your actions clearly.

Do not begin to look for your personal documents until the officer asks for them. Any motion he sees inside the car may put him on edge, with concerns that you may be searching for a weapon. If he fears for his safety, the situation gets a lot more complicated, and he may ask you to step out of the vehicle or search it.

Be Polite to the Officer

Most of the time, officers are glad to let people go with a warning, though they do assess the situation very carefully before doing so. Always wait for the officer’s instructions and follow them. Don’t hold him unnecessarily by asking questions. Remember, the less time you keep him there, the better.

Do Not Consent to a Search

Most officers know before they even leave their vehicles whether or not they’ll let you go with a warning, though they sometimes may act as if they’re still deciding, in order to get you to consent to a search or to get you to make some sort of confession. Do not consent to a search. If the officer is asking permission, he has no legal grounds to search without your consent. Do not assume he’s just testing you and will let you go if you agree. He’s likely to do a thorough search and you’ll be part of a drug bust traffic stop.

The officer may also threaten you with a warrant or say he’s calling for a drug dog in order to get you to agree to a search. Always decline. An officer is not allowed to hold you for an unreasonable amount of time by law, and oftentimes, calling in a K-9 unit or getting a warrant exceeds a reasonable amount of time. Moreover, if you are detained for an excessive amount of time, your lawyer may later use this to have the evidence gathered from the search thrown out. This usually leads to your charges being dismissed.

Do Not Admit Anything

“You have the right to remain silent,” as the saying goes, and you should. Your silence cannot be deemed an admission of guilt. Sometimes an officer will try to befriend you, in an attempt to get you to admit that you have something. He may even try to sympathize with you, or tell you how much better it will be for you if you just confess now. It won’t be. Whether you admit to having drugs, or whether they’re found in your vehicle during a search, the charge is the same. Moreover, your admission can be used against you. On the other hand, if you remain silent, the officer does not have concrete proof that any illegal substances are yours. You will still get arrested if they’re found, but if you don’t admit they’re yours, your lawyer may have more fodder in court.

Hire a Competent Philadelphia Traffic Stop Drug Bust Attorney

If you’re involved in a drug bust traffic stop, there is nothing you can say that will change the officer’s mind. Once the illegal substance is found, you will be arrested. The best thing you can do afterward is to contact a seasoned Philadelphia traffic stop drug bust lawyer.

Drug charges can change your whole life. You’re not only looking at immediate jail time and large fines, but also long-term consequences that can impact job prospects and where you can live. It’s important to hire an experienced attorney, such as the ones we highlight on this website, who will evaluate your case and create a solid defense. Take a moment to review the profiles and begin scheduling your free case evaluations today.

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Will Illegal Marijuana Possession Be a Thing of the Past?

In places like Philadelphia, illegal marijuana possession is at an all-time high. With the most recent success of pot legalization Colorado and other states, progressives are more troubled than ever with the constitutional gridlock in Washington and are arranging a major ballot initiative to push throughout the country. They are betting on a very favorable electorate in 2016, with a lot of parties now supporting issues such as background checks for weapons, improving the base pay, and marijuana legalization advocacy.

Organizations are now far more positive after the big success on progressive ballot campaigns presented to the conservative bloc of voters in 2014. In 2016, the more youthful, liberal voters are expected to appear in droves, and generate more notable wins. Referendums including gun regulation, economic fairness issues (consisting of compensated sick leave and equal pay), and marijuana legalization are estimated to outnumber those of 2012. This is a direct sign that liberals are allowing a state-based model that lets them circumvent legislature and Congress.

Conservatives, moreover, are not taking this lightly and are vowing to put an end to the momentum with a set of competing ballot propositions. Nonetheless, pot legalization advocate’s approach, in particular, is presumed to do quite well, considering the jarring demographic variances among midterm and presidential years.

“Especially with gridlock in Washington and fewer states likely to address the minimum wage legislatively, we’re likely to see more ballot initiatives on the minimum wage and other progressive economic issues,” stated Paul Sonn, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project. The organization has supported minimum wage pushes across America. Sonn’s statement reflects on the midterm election, in which the GOP took back the Senate and made major gains in the House. It was the lowest voter turnout since 1942, with much younger and minority voters making up a much smaller sized percentage of the voting pool.

Things are much more ideal now for progressives, as minimum-wage-hike success sweep across four hardened red states on November 4th– including, Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Sonn, however, feels confident that the rise in economic ballot propositions will boost turnout more than in the last election cycle. Although Sonn can not certify which new initiatives will be on the ballot, he did say that states like Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, Missouri, and Washington are places where gridlock makes ballot initiatives an appealing alternative.

According to experts, paid sick leave and equal pay propositions are also likely to be on the ballot in 2016. The senior vice president of the Center for American Progress, Arkadi Gerney, declared the present trend in economic initiatives is largely in reply to the failings of Congress and state legislatures. They just have not managed the decades-long wage stagnation.

More than a few marijuana legalization organizations are also getting ready for the 2016 election in Arizona, Maine, California, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Heads of these groups also say they have a good chance at being on the ballot in Montana and Missouri, as well. They are hopeful due in part to the legalization of marijuana possession in Oregon and Alaska in 2014, and the legalization of the plant’s use and transfer in Washington, D.C. A constitutional amendment requiring a 60% approval failed in Pennsylvania, which would have permitted the usage of medical marijuana, but it still garnered a huge 58% of the vote.

Communications administrator for the Marijuana Policy Project Mason Tvert noted the group’s forceful push is also because of the gridlock in state legislature, saying, “In the legislature, you can have a majority of elected officials in support, but it might be held up for five years due to one or two legislators, or a governor threatening a veto.”

It’s true that the nation appears to be more pro-pot as the years progress, but these updated campaigns will not be won without a fight. 2012 brought success in states like Colorado and Washington (the first two states to legalize small marijuana possession), but at the same time, there were some substantial deficits, including the embarrassing defeat of recreational marijuana legalization in the bluest parts of Oregon.

Anti-marijuana groups are said to be on the counteroffensive. “We are ramping up our efforts,” expressed Kevin Sabet, who co-founded the anti-legalization Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.). “It’s clear that we have a lot of work to do. I’m not looking at this with rose-colored glasses,” Sabet appended.

Still, he attested that a spending benefit was a fundamental cause for legalization successes. Anti-legalization advocates have badly outspent in both Oregon and Alaska this past cycle.

Sabet would not eliminate some anti-legalization ballot initiatives, either, featuring those that may potentially tie state marijuana policy to federal policy, where halting prohibition would be much more difficult. “All options are on the table,” he claimed.

The post Will Illegal Marijuana Possession Be a Thing of the Past? appeared first on Philadelphia Drug Lawyers.

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The Philadelphia Drug Attorney Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Consultation

Consulting with a Philadelphia drug attorney is something nobody ever wants to do, but when the time comes to do it, it’s imperative to be prepared. Your Philadelphia drug lawyer will make the process easier for you, and will get you through one of the most difficult challenges you’ll ever face, but he cannot do this alone. Moreover, each drug lawyer will have his own take on what you can expect and what course of action is best.

All attorneys will have some proficiency in the law, but you will have to provide them with the details, documents, and first-hand accounts necessary to assess your case properly.  You’re going to want to compare a few, just so you can be sure you’re making the right decision. Knowing what to discuss in these consultations can help you develop a standardized way to measure the abilities of each, and can help the one you retain create a strong strategy, so your outcome is better.

Preparing for Your Philadelphia Drug Attorney Consultation

Be Organized

Start by organizing a comprehensive file with all the important details of your case. You may want to create a file for each drug lawyer you intend to consult with, as well as one for yourself to keep, so make copies of all your documents in advance. Keep your file orderly, so it’s easy to page through and grab the relevant information. If the arrest began as something benign, like a traffic stop, write down everything you can recall about the event from start to finish, and add it to your file. Any other documents, such a citations, court papers, and witness statements or contact information, should also be added to the file.

Be Detail-Oriented

Almost any detail can be pertinent to your case, so it’s important to provide your Philadelphia drug attorney with everything he may possibly need to know. Even something as simple as the weather on the day you were arrested may become relevant to your case. Give your attorney everything, and let him decide what’s helpful and what isn’t.

Be Honest

Do not lie to your lawyer or omit information. Even if there are details you believe nobody else will know, your attorney needs to know them.  This way, he can prepare for anything that the prosecution may try. Without the two of you working together as a team, he cannot effectively defend you.

Ask for Explanations

If you’re confused by anything a legal representative says, whether it’s because he’s using too much legal jargon, or you’re just overwhelmed with information, ask him to slow down and clarify. This way, you can be sure you’re both on the same page and you’re getting the most out of your consultation.

Keep Your Drug Lawyer Informed

When things change in your case, it is very important to update your attorney. Every detail and development can impact your court case and can considerably change the outcome. The time it takes to resolve a legal case varies, so it’s crucial to keep your attorney updated. He should be doing the same for you as well.

Retaining a Philadelphia Drug Attorney

After you’ve met with a few experts, it’s usually easy to select the one who is best for you. Most people feel very at ease with their selection, and feel confident going forward. If you’re ready to start the process of selecting a defense attorney for your drug case, review the profiles listed here and begin scheduling your consultations today.

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