Sunday, January 30, 2011

Penalties for Drug Offenses

Drug offenses come in many different varieties. Regardless of the offense, penalties may be severe. For even a first offense on a possession with intent to sell, state sentencing guidelines often result in up to 10 years in prison. In the federal system, the penalties may be even more severe. Contact the Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys to fight your charges to avoid these severe consequences.

Civil penalties may also apply. Police authorities make money by confiscating your property. If you were arrested for drug offenses, property can be seized. This includes cash that the person may have had with them, vehicles they may have been using or even homes where drug offense are alleged to have occurred. The evidence will be held without releasing it so long as there is an ongoing investigation. Often, prosecutors will attempt to forfeit the property permanently. It is often possible to file a lawsuit seeking the return of your property, in which a forfeiture hearing is initiated. Your Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys can help you fight to get your property back.

The collateral consequences of a conviction are also severe. Even a minor drug offense in Washington conviction may result in the inability to work in certain fields. For example, a drug conviction can disqualify a person from ever working in the health care field in almost any capacity. It may also impact employment in many other careers, particularly jobs that require a background check or security clearance. Background checks may also be performed for those seeking to rent a residence. A conviction may result in a denial. Finally, a conviction for a drug offense can have a significant impact on immigration and, in some instance, may result in deportation for non U.S. citizens. The Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys will consult with an immigration attorney to ensure hat your immigration status is protected

Given the significant impact of drug offenses, consulting with an experienced Criminal Attorney in Seattle is imperative at an early stage so that all defenses can be explored and evidence challenged.

If a law enforcement task force believse they have enough evidence to charge an individual, they will often postpone charges, seeking, instead, to cast a wider net. They do this by trying to convince the suspected individual to provide them names of other drug dealers or users and, often, seeking to engage that suspect in drug purchases. In this way, law enforcement builds a small case into a much larger case by building a using the suspected individual.

Suspected individuals often feel compelled to cooperate. They mistakenly believe that by doing so, they will never be charged. The fact is that the charges may not be filed immediately, even for a year or more, but they will come. Moreover, the use of individuals who face charges of their own often means that they are motivated to come up with some evidence against others, whether it exists or not. In the end, it is not uncommon for the legal authorities to violate constitutional rights to be free from warrantless searches and seizures or Fifth Amendment rights related to custodial interrogation. Often, these issues can be the back bone of a defense case where suppression of evidence or statements is critical. The Washington Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys are experienced to fight these charges.

Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia can often be challenged arguing that the person charged did not have control of the seized contraband. An officer must also have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of a particular criminal offense in order to stop a person. That is true whether they are walking, standing or driving. Often, when the basis for the stop is explored, the reasonable suspicion is found lacking and the subsequent discovery of drugs suppressed. Another critical factor is whether the officers involved conducted a constitutional search. Except for certain exception, the officers would require consent to search or have a search warrant in hand. Even a search warrant must be supported by probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If the search is determined to be improper, the drugs seized may be suppressed. Even the weight and purity of the drug may be critical and can be challenged to reduce the drug offense charged.

If you or a loved one is faced with a criminal charge such as a drug offense in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle criminal attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington’s criminal laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

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