Every person who is facing charges alleging illegal drug activity in Columbia needs to act quickly to protect themselves. These charges are serious matters, and most are felonies where a conviction will label a person as a felon and can result in a lengthy prison sentence.
Even so, it is possible to promote a powerful defense in a Columbia court against these charges. All people have a right to privacy in their own homes, and police officers must have a valid reason to stop a car or frisk an individual on the street. Many effective defenses center around whether the police violated a person’s Constitutional rights.
A Columbia drug lawyer may be able to help people who are facing allegations involving illegal drugs. Attorneys could help explain Missouri’s laws, why they may apply to a person’s case, and develop a defense that could help defeat these allegations in court.
The laws in Columbia and around the State concerning the possession and distribution of illegal drugs are among the strictest in the country. According to Missouri Revised Statutes §579.015, having any amount of a controlled substance in one’s possession, with the exception of small amounts of marijuana is a felony. While these offenses do not carry mandatory minimum sentences, they can result in a court handing down a multi-year prison term.
Even more concerning are allegations that involve illegal drug distribution. Here, a conviction will result in a mandatory prison sentence, regardless of whether a person moves drugs for profit. Under Missouri Revised Statutes §579.020, the mere appearance of possession with the intent to distribute triggers these enhanced penalties.
Fortunately, the State has taken steps to lessen the penalties for recreational users of marijuana. While not legal in Columbia as it is in other states, the law does loosen the available penalties for marijuana possession. A first offense that involves less than ten grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor where a conviction cannot result in jail time. However, people need to be cautious, as a second conviction allows a court to sentence a defendant to up to one year in jail. Similarly, it is still illegal to distribute any amount of marijuana under traditional drug laws. A Columbia drug attorney could provide more information about Missouri’s prohibitions on the sale and distribution of drugs.
Every person has a right to privacy in their homes, inside their cars, and on their body. Police officers can only perform searches of these areas if they have probable cause that illegal activity has taken place. Because of these legal protections, many defendants in Columbia drug cases have powerful defenses available to them in court.
Many drug arrests are the result of police officers stopping people in public. If conducing a stop, an officer must have probable cause to believe that a criminal act has occurred. Police cannot search a suspect because they look like they might have drugs and cannot search a car after a traffic stop without reason to believe that the driver is using or transporting drugs.
Similarly, police generally cannot enter a home without the owner’s permission or a lawful warrant. To obtain a warrant, law enforcement must provide the court with probable cause that there are illegal substances or activities at the location in question. A failure on the part of law enforcement to follow these rules could allow a Columbia drug attorney to question the admissibility of the resulting evidence in court.
Facing accusations of illegal drug possession or distribution in Columbia can be a frightening and disorienting experience. Missouri has some of the strictest drug laws in the country, and the mere possession of most illegal substances is a felony. More concerning are allegations of the distribution of drugs, all of which carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.
A Columbia drug lawyer stands ready to fight for you. Attorneys could work to hear your side of the story and to evaluate the legality of the police work that led to the arrest. Call today to start with a confidential consultation.