Published in Criminal Law on April 12, 2023.
It is no secret that America has a drug problem. In fact, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 1.16 million Americans are arrested annually for drug-related offenses.
Drug addiction is a prevalent issue in Indianapolis and around the country. Drug addiction often leads people into a life of crime and legal issues. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges because of an addiction, you need a compassionate yet fierce defender.
Some Repercussions of Drug Addiction
In Indiana, as in most states, using, possessing, or distributing any illegal street drugs or pharmaceuticals without a prescription can result in severe criminal penalties, including incarceration and fines. Individuals under the influence, “high,” or grappling with withdrawal symptoms are more likely to commit crimes they otherwise wouldn’t, including drug crimes, theft, assault, robbery, and more.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) discusses extensive research on drugs, the brain, and how addiction impacts criminal behavior. Specifically, the long-term and even short-term use of drugs can cause extreme damage to the brain.
- Impaired judgment and decreased thought processes,
- Inability to understand the consequences of your actions,
- Lack of impulse control,
- Decreased inhibitions, and
- Increase in compulsive or aggressive behaviors.
The circumstances and severity of your addiction may play a vital role in your defense against criminal charges.
Alternative Sentencing Options for Drug Offenders
The courts and legislators alike have increasingly recognized the drug abuse epidemic and its undeniable link to crime. Because of that, there are often alternative sentencing options available for drug offenders. Rather than penalizing all drug offenses strictly with incarceration and fines, there are other options for treatment and rehabilitation.
These rehabilitation programs are often available to non-violent drug offenders. The purpose is twofold: to help addicts recover and to ease the strain repeat drug offenders put on the criminal justice system. Several different alternatives or diversion programs may be available.
- Pretrial intervention programs: Upon successful completion of the program, which may include treatment, community service, and the payment of fines, the charge may be dismissed.
- Drug court: Drug court focuses on rehabilitation for non-violent drug offenders. Like other pretrial diversion programs, drug courts may require offenders to complete specific programs, including clean drug tests and monitoring.
Other alternative sentencing options include electronic (a.k.a. ankle) monitoring, house arrest, probation, and work-release programs.
Having an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney familiar with alternative sentencing options and eligibility could be vital in avoiding the harshest penalties and getting the help you need.
Defenses to Drug Crimes
Depending on the circumstances, you may have one or more defenses available. In some cases, a strong defense can lead to an outright dismissal of charges. In other cases, it can lead to an acquittal or favorable plea bargain.
Constitutional violations are commonly asserted defenses in drug cases. Each defendant charged with a crime has the right to certain protections under the 4th and 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Some constitutional defenses include illegal search and seizure by the police, failure to obtain a valid warrant, and the failure to read Miranda rights. If law enforcement violates any of these rights during the arrest, your lawyer can request the court exclude any evidence obtained through the violation. If enough evidence gets excluded and leaves the State with little to no evidence of your guilt, it could lead to a dismissal of your charges.
Other examples of constitutional violations include breaking the chain of custody of evidence and obtaining a coerced confession from the defendant.
Other defenses to drug crimes include:
- You had a valid prescription for the drugs;
- You did not know the drug was illegal;
- You were falsely accused;
- The drugs did not belong to you; and
- The police entrapped you into committing a crime you had no predisposition to commit.
Our experienced attorneys will review your case for constitutional violations and other possible defenses, including advocating for rehabilitation and recovery versus incarceration.
It’s the State’s Burden
The State has the burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors often rely on several pieces of evidence in drug cases, including the following:
- The drugs themselves;
- The police report, dash and body cam video, and officer testimony;
- Forensic expert analysis and testimony; and
- The defendant’s recorded communications (e.g., texts, emails, and voicemails).
If any evidence is excluded or otherwise discredited, it can be monumental for the defense.
Contact an Experienced Attorney for Help
For over a decade, our team has been fierce advocates of those facing both drug addiction and criminal charges. At Eskew Law, LLC, our clients are our number one concern. We understand you may be going through a difficult time and find yourself in the throes of addiction. Drug addiction as a criminal defense is possible under certain circumstances. Let us help. We have extensive experience helping those accused of drug crimes get the real help they need to turn their life around. Contact us for a confidential sit down to discuss your defense strategy.