This is the next post in our series on the handling of Little Rock, Arkansas drug charges involving heroin or other opioids. Our last article discussed resolving heroin-related offenses through plea negotiations. It is important to understand that accepting a negotiation may sometimes be in a defendant’s best interests but it is also important for a criminal defense attorney to fully evaluate your options. In this article we will discuss issues which arise while defending against trafficking charges. We cannot stress enough that, if you have been arrested for trafficking, then you are facing serious consequences. Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
Those arrested for trafficking heroin are facing a high level offense and may find themselves defending against federal criminal charges. Two common issues in trafficking cases involve the stop of a vehicle and the prosecution’s need to prove intent. We will discuss each of these issues in turn.
Police officers may not stop a vehicle without a valid reasons. Furthermore, even if they have a valid reason for stopping a car, they may not have grounds to search the vehicle. Generally, law enforcement must gain a warrant to search closed containers, the trunk, and other parts of the vehicle. Also, there are limitations to the extent to which law enforcement may employ a drug sniffing dog to search a vehicle. As we discussed in our article on drug-sniffing dogs and vehicle searches, if the police stop someone for a traffic infraction then they may not detain them longer than is necessary to deal with that infraction; if they detain the suspect for a longer period of time in order to bring a dog to the scene then such may be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. These are just a few examples of how violations of search and seizure law can lead to possible defenses in a case.
Prosecutors may not convict one of drug trafficking unless they can prove that the individual “knowingly and intentionally” possessed the drugs. Simply driving a vehicle which contains large amounts of heroin may not be enough for the prosecution to gain a conviction. Say, for example, that one is driving a vehicle with heroin contained in a hidden compartment. If it is shown that the individual did not own the car, did not regularly drive the car, and was simply delivering the vehicle as a favor to someone, then there may be a possible defense that the driver lacked knowledge or intent to possess the drugs. Whether someone has a legitimate defense at trial will always be situation specific and one should consult with an attorney to gain an opinion.
If you have been charged with drug trafficking then contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. Our Little Rock criminal defense attorneys have over twenty-five years of combined experience and they are ready to assist you. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.