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Details matter in cases involve drug charges

Baton Rouge police recently arrested six individuals suspected of being involved in a cocaine distribution ring. Sources recite at length the various arrests and list all the illegal items that were confiscated in the four-month long investigation, giving the reader the impression that there is abundant evidence to convict the suspects of every drug charge that has been issued.

One thing that is important to realize in these types of cases, however, is that while police may have an abundance of evidence that illegal activity has taken place, it doesn't necessarily follow that those arrested are guilty as charged or that they were involved in the drug ring to the extent they have been accused.

The issue of the extent to which a suspect was involved in a drug ring and exactly how they were involved is not tangential to a solid criminal defense. Federal law specifies maximum and minimum terms of imprisonment based on the type and quantity of controlled substances at issue, as well as a number of other factors, including the presence of weapons, whether other persons were injured, the defendant's criminal history, and the location whether the illegal activity took place. All of these factors have a role in the charges issued and how harsh sentencing will be.

It is important that those facing federal drug charges act early to build a thorough defense against such charges. Acting early can put one in a better position to negotiate a dismissal, a favorable plea bargain, give a defendant the opportunity to avoid charges by assisting police or prosecutors, and avoiding prosecutorial policies which make it more difficult to negotiate a better deal.

Source: The Advocate, "Cocaine ring busted," Kimberly Vetter, May 23, 2012

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