While drug cases tend to be fact-specific, prosecutors also have considerable leeway when it comes to the charges they file. Some suspects may think that they are being charged with simple drug possession, only to find out later that they face charges of possession with intent to sell. The difference between these crimes is that the former is often a misdemeanor while the latter can be a felony.
How do you begin to contest the accuracy or appropriateness of the charges against you? Is it even possible to do this, or do you just have to accept the charges dealt? Today, we’ll discuss what legal rights and options defendants have if they feel they have not been charged appropriately.
In the case of drug offenses, your particular offense may be right on the borderline between misdemeanor and felony. Prosecutors or judges will often pursue the more serious of the two possible charges.
With help from your criminal defense attorney, you can seek to have the charge reduced using a couple different arguments. First, your attorney may be able to argue that the higher charge is not supported by the evidence. As such it needs to be reduced. He or she may also discuss a plea deal with you that would allow you to plead guilty to a lesser drug charge, if this is appropriate in your case.
The other argument your attorney can make is that your conduct did not rise to the level of felonious and should be treated as a misdemeanor. This argument would be most effective with the type of “borderline” cases we mentioned above.
In addition to contesting the accuracy and appropriateness of the charges, your attorney can also help you mount the best possible defense based on the facts of your case. He or she may also be able to negotiate a plea deal (with your permission) if this will produce the best possible outcome. For any of this to happen, however, it is important to first seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Source: FindLaw, "Charged With the Wrong Crime? What Can You Do?" Brett Snider, July 15, 2014