In an effort to conserve resources many town and county law enforcement organizations utilize "joint drug task forces" to make wide spread drug arrests.
Westchester County & Putnam County Drug Arrests
Westchester and Putnam County utilize this strategy to increase their drug arrests especially in the county border communities such asSoutheast, Brewster, Kent, Carmel, Mahopac and Cold Spring in Putnam County and Peekskill, Yorktown, Somers, Lewisboro and North Salem in Westchester County.
Since these specialized drug task force arrests are usually well organized between two or more law enforcement agencies the best drug offense criminal defense lawyers have to be aggressive at every stage of the case.
In order to attack the arrest and the District Attorney's evidence there are basic steps that the top criminal drug offense lawyers must know.
The following are my Top 5:
1. Investigate the Stop of the Accused by Police: Task force drug investigations and arrests always involve a stop of an accused either for a direct arrest or for further investigation. It is very important for the criminal defense lawyer to know all the details of the police stop of the accused to prepare for suppression if the accused's constitutional rights were violated. For example, police officers can not approach an individual based only on a "hunch" and frisk the individual. Police officers can not pull over a vehicle, without reason, and search for drugs. A detailed review of the facts of the case will reveal if an accused's rights were violated.
2. Miranda Violation: Any use of an accused's statements in direct violation of Miranda Rights must be suppressed. Police officers use various strategies to obtain statements from a suspect or force the suspect to waive their Miranda rights. For example, the police will lie to a suspect, make promises to "put in a good word" with the District Attorney, threaten a higher more serious charge unless a statement is provided or tell an accused that high bail will be set unless they make a statement. All of these practices must be attacked to have any statements made in violation of Miranda rights suppressed.
3. Undercover Informants: To make their job easier the police will commonly use undercover informants to build a case for an arrest. A criminal defense attorney has to attack the use of undercover informants. Many times an informant is "working off" several arrests of their own, addicted to any number of drugs, they may have a transient lifestyle or orchestrate a "set up" for an arrest. The most aggressive defense against an informant is to attack their credibility and motives for working with the police.
4. Laboratory Reports/Speedy Trial: After every drug arrest the evidence (drugs) seized is sent to be analyzed by the County laboratory. In Westchester County, the County Laboratory is located on the campus at the Westchester County Medical Center. It is important to demand a laboratory report regarding the drugs or other evidence seized. This is necessary to determine the exact controlled substance the prosecution will try to present into evidence and the weight of the controlled substance (Felony vs. Misdemeanor weight). Importantly, the laboratory report must be furnished to the accused's defense attorney in order for the District Attorney to proceed with the case. Many times speedy trial rights are a factor because of a delay in the return of a laboratory report. In general, the District Attorney must be ready to proceed to trial within 6 months on a felony and 90 days on a "A" Misdemeanor drug charge. The District Attorney can not be ready for trial without a laboratory report.
5. Chain of Custody: During a trial the District Attorney must present proof that the evidence (drugs) to be presented at trial was not tampered with in any way. To do this, the District Attorney must present documentation and individuals that had custody of the evidence from the arrest to trial. As a criminal defense attorney it is always necessary to determine if the District Attorney can meet this burden because if there is a significant break in the chain of custody it could lead to the suppression of the evidence.
At Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP our attorneys understand all types of drug cases and the best strategy for their defense both before and during a trial.
We take the time to explain the legal process and strategy to you, listen to your concerns, answer your questions and offer you advice to achieve your goals and protect your rights.
We will aggressively protect you during the criminal prosecution.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for any type of drug offense call our office for a free consultation. (914) 946-4808.