Constitutional Issues in Ocean City Drug Distribution Cases
A highly controversial issue over the past 30 years has been that of the “War on Drugs”. With drug distribution cases at the heart of this topic, it is no wonder why many constitutional concerns have been raised over the methods used to obtain evidence for prosecuting individuals accused of drug distribution in Ocean City. If you are one such individual, you will need an Ocean City drug distribution lawyer to help construct a defense to minimize the life changing penalties a conviction would involve.
The Fourth Amendment is the constitutional issue most prevalent in drug distribution cases because the it protects people from any unreasonable searches and seizures. To this end, it requires a warrant be secured before doing any sort of search other than those specific exceptions which the courts have allowed.
Oftentimes, in a drug distribution case, the police do an initial investigation which may include sending a confidential informant to a location to do a controlled buy. By doing so, they are attempting to see if they can get somebody within a house to sell them drugs.
Based on that information, the police then typically asks a judge to sign a search and seizure warrant for that location in order to conduct a search. The outcome of that search can be incredibly damaging for a client.
There are cases where the police came into a home and found a significant amount of evidence throughout the house to charge that person with possession with intent to distribute.
If the police get a warrant and they are able to come into a house to search for drugs, constitutionally that means they can search every square inch of that home. They are allowed to search in any location where drugs could be kept.
That includes every kitchen cabinet, every dresser drawer, and every closet. If the search turns up packaging materials, a significant amount of money and drugs, or someone actively distributing at the time, that can be a serious case against the defendant for possession with intent to distribute.
Another constitutional issue that can arise in an Ocean City drug distribution case are conversations a person has with an undercover law enforcement officer or statements the person makes to a law enforcement officer after they are arrested.
The Fifth Amendment comes into play whenever a person makes statements to law enforcement if it was an interrogation or the individual was in custody, and what sort of rights they had.
Commonly Contested Elements in Court
One element that can be highly contested is that the defendant is the one who is in fact guilty of the crime. The identity of the person distributing the drugs can be a real issue for the state to prove.
For instance, there are cases where the police allege that a defendant distributed drugs, but that person was not immediately arrested or charged at the time police allege the distribution took place.
Another example is where multiple people in one household were arrested and they are all charged with possession with intent to distribute. That can turn into a trial issue, if they are charging someone who doesn’t reside in the home and whose name is not on the lease. The state must make some sort of connection between the defendant and the place where the drugs were found.
The Ocean City Police Department has police officers that are members of the Worcester County Narcotics Task Force. This is a collaborative multi-agency group that investigates drug distribution.
They will spend a great deal of time and energy trying to locate someone who is a distributor and putting together an investigation with the intent of being able to catch the person distributing.
It is not unusual for officers to attempt to buy directly from a distributor; they will go undercover and pose , for example, as an addict trying to purchase $20 worth of the product.
If police officers can testify in court that they purchased heroin from the defendant, their case is a lot stronger and the defendant is likely facing conviction.
Also, it is not unusual for law enforcement to use confidential informants to go into an area or a house and attempt to make a purchase from a distributor. If they can successfully make some purchases out of a location, they can get a search and seizure warrant to go into that location, search it, and seize anything that suggests that drug crimes are going on in there.
Contact a Drug Distribution Lawyer Today
Because of the seriousness of the charges and the possible outcomes, it is essential that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be sure to examine all areas of the investigation, including and especially any constitutional issues that may arise. They will also guide and advise you throughout the often overwhelming legal process as you fight your charges.