According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania is currently enduring a major crisis involving the widescale trafficking and abuse of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs, including Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, fetanyl and heroin. Narcotic trafficking cases involving other illegal drugs or controlled substances including cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and Xanax are also very common in Pennsylvania.
As a result of the growing epidemic, federal state and local governments have dedicated significant resources to investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in the distribution and manufacturing of illegal drugs and controlled substances throughout the major cities and suburban communities of Pennsylvania.
Adverse Consequences of a Drug Trafficking Conviction
Unfortunately, innocent people are often charged with drug trafficking crimes due to overzealous police and prosecutors. Individuals charged with delivering or manufacturing illegal drugs or controlled substances often face long prison sentences, excessive fines and court costs and the forfeiture of their home, vehicle or other valuable assets. It is important to have a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side if you are charged with possession with intent to deliver, delivery or drug manufacturing charges.
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals facing charges for the manufacture, delivery or the possession with intent to deliver or manufacture a controlled substance in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
Defending against Drug Delivery and Manufacturing Charges
I will thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of your case to develop the most effective available defense against the charges. I will often retain an independent private investigator to conduct witness interviews and acquire other evidence supporting the defense of the case. Some of the common defenses against charges for manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver or manufacture a controlled substance include:
- The drugs were for personal use and not delivery or manufacture
- The drugs belonged to another person
- The evidence was confiscated as a result of an illegal search and seizure
- The police conducted an incompetent and unreliable investigation
- The testimony of the police informant was biased and untruthful
- The police violated the suspect’s Miranda rights during interrogation
Possession with Intent to Deliver Defense
The police will often file charges for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance when the amount of drugs found in the possession of the accused exceeds the amount usually possessed for personal use. The prosecutor is not required to prove that an actual delivery of drugs took place when possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance is charged.
Evidence used by the Police in Possession with Intent to Deliver Cases
In possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance cases, the police will look for the presence of drug packaging supplies, digital scales, and large amounts of cash or weapons in the vehicle, residence or other location connected to the accused. The police will often search any cell phones or other electronic devices found at the scene for evidence of communications indicating that drug transactions were taking place between the accused and others. It is important to determine if the police obtained a search warrant or used other lawful authority before they conducted a search of a cell phone or other electronic device as part of the investigation.
The police will often file charges for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance based almost entirely on the subjective and unverifiable opinions of fellow police officers, special agents and detectives. In certain cases, I have been successful in presenting the testimony of recognized experts in the field of drug distribution and manufacturing to establish to a judge or a jury that the drugs seized by the police were used by the accused for personal use and for not distribution or manufacturing.
Challenging the Prosecutor’s Drug Expert
In some cases, the testimony of an independent drug distribution expert can be combined with the testimony of the accused to rebut the opinion of the prosecutor’s expert that the drugs were possessed with the intent to deliver or sell to another. I can review the evidence in your case to determine if an independent drug distribution expert may assist in a successful defense against your charges.
Illegal Search and Seizure in Drug Trafficking Cases
The United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania State Constitution provide citizens with certain fundamental rights that the police and prosecutors must honor during the arrest, investigation and prosecution of a criminal offense. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provide protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
Suppression of Illegally Obtained Evidence
Evidence obtained by the police as a result of an illegal search and seizure can be challenged in court through a Motion to Suppress Evidence. A court order to suppress evidence in a drug delivery or manufacturing case will usually result in a withdrawal or dismissal of the charges by the prosecutor. Many constitutional issues must be investigated in cases involving the manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to deliver or manufacture a controlled substance, including:
- Did the police have reasonable suspicion to stop you?
- Did the police have probable cause to search or arrest you?
- Did the police have a lawful basis to conduct a pat-down search?
- Did you consent to a search of your person or property?
- Was your consent voluntary?
- Did the police have a search warrant to search your home or property?
- Was there probable cause to issue a search warrant?
- Were wiretaps or other surveillance methods authorized and operated in a lawful manner
Challenging the Police Investigation
In certain cases, I have been able to establish a successful defense to charges of delivery, manufacture or possession with intent to deliver or manufacture a controlled substance by demonstrating that the police failed to follow proper investigative procedures during the investigative phase of the case. It is important to review the actions taken by the police during the collection, processing and analysis of evidence in a drug trafficking case. Evidence of a sloppy and incompetent police investigation can often be sufficient to create a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused and produce a verdict of not guilty from the judge or jury.
Using Defense Experts in a Drug Trafficking Case
A successful drug delivery or manufacturing defense will often require the use of independent forensic experts from many different fields. Some cases may require the use of a police practices expert to examine whether the police followed the proper guidelines while conducting the investigation of the case.
It may be necessary to retain a digital forensics expert in cases involving computer, cell phone and other electronic evidence. Other cases may require the use of forensic toxicologist or pharmacologist to review whether the government laboratory personnel followed the proper procedures in collecting, processing and testing of the drug evidence in the case. An independent forensic toxicologist or pharmacologist can also be retained in cases where the drug evidence needs to be retested or reweighed. Some of the most common issues arising in drug trafficking investigations include:
- Did the police follow proper procedures in collecting and preserving evidence?
- Was crime scene evidence contaminated during processing?
- Has an unbroken chain of custody of the evidence been established?
- Were proper laboratory protocols followed during the testing of the drugs?
- Was the crime laboratory analysis of the drugs accurate?
- Were proper laboratory protocols followed during DNA testing?
- Were proper procedures followed during the analysis of digital evidence?
Use of Informants in Drug Trafficking Cases
It is very common for the police to use drug abusers as confidential informants in investigations involving the delivery or manufacture of illegal drugs. The police will frequently use a confidential informant to gather background information about a suspected drug trafficker. Confidential informants are also often used to arrange and complete a “controlled buy” of the suspect’s drug product. Confidential informants are usually the least believable witnesses to testify for the prosecutor in a drug trafficking trial.
Challenging the Credibility of the Informant
Confidential informants often agree to work with the police in exchange for an agreement by the police to withdraw pending criminal charges or for an agreement to a reduced sentence. Because of their status, confidential informants have a strong incentive to lie to the police and prosecutors in the hope of receiving a more favorable resolution of their pending criminal charges.
Investigating the Background of the Informant
Confidential informants usually have long criminal records and often continue to participate in criminal activity while working with the police. An independent defense investigation will often uncover many prior instances of deception and deceitfulness by the confidential informant. I have the ability and experience to effectively cross-examine a confidential informant to expose their dishonesty and bias to a judge or jury.
Violation of Miranda Rights During Police Questioning
Prosecutors commonly use evidence of a confession or other incriminating statements allegedly made by the accused as proof of guilt in a drug trafficking trial. In many instances, these statements are inaccurate and were taken by the police in violation of a suspect’s state and federal constitutional rights.
Miranda Rights in a Drug Trafficking Case
The privilege against self-incrimination is guaranteed to citizens in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and in Article 1, § 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The police are required to inform the accused of his or her right against self-incrimination prior to any custodial interrogation. This statement is referred to as a “Miranda warning” after the 1966 United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. Under Miranda, the police are required to inform a suspect of certain legal rights prior to custodial interrogation including:
- You have the right to remain silent; and
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; and
- You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him or her present with you while you are being questioned; and
- If you are unable to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning takes place; and
- You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements
Miranda and Custodial Interrogation
Miranda rights are triggered whenever a person is in custody and subject to interrogation by the police. A suspect is considered to be in custody when they are substantially deprived of their freedom and are not free to leave. Police interrogation of a suspect can take place in a patrol car, at the police department, in jail or at the scene of the crime.
Suppression of Evidence under Miranda
A statement or confession made by a suspect in violation of Miranda will be considered involuntary and cannot be used against the suspect in court. Any evidence the police discover as a result of the unlawfully obtained statement can also be excluded from use as evidence in court under the legal doctrine referred to as “the fruit of the poisonous tree.”
Excluding Statements made in Violation of Miranda
I will thoroughly review the circumstances any police interrogation to determine whether your Miranda rights were violated. I will file a Motion to Suppress Evidence if the police obtained statements in violation of your Miranda rights. A court ruling precluding the use of an illegally obtained statement will often result in a withdrawal or dismissal of the charges by the prosecutor. I will fight to protect your rights if you have been charged with a drug trafficking crime and were subject to police questioning before or after your arrest.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you are facing charges for the manufacture, delivery or the possession with intent to deliver or manufacture a controlled substance in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, it is critical that you act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against the charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.