A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
Thousands of people in Wyoming are arrested every year on drug possession charges. Many of these charges are for small amounts of drugs or other controlled substances in their cars or on their person. These cases represent a large percentage of Wyoming’s criminal caseload, and defendants’ behavior in responding to a charge for possession of a controlled substance is almost routine. But with the assistance of a skilled and experienced drug possession defense lawyer, it is possible to fight these charges and obtain a better outcome.
Historically, cases for possession of a controlled substance resulted in a citation being issued rather than an arrest. But recently, Wyoming police departments have been arresting people for possession of a small amount of illegal controlled substances and charging them as misdemeanors.
Controlled substances are drugs that the government has decided to regulate under the Controlled Substances Act because they can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health and welfare. The Controlled Substances Act breaks drugs down into five categories, or schedules, based on the likelihood of abuse and whether the drugs have an accepted medical use. The schedules are as follows:
It is illegal to possess the substances identified on these schedules unless you have a prescription from a doctor and lawfully purchased the drug.
Wyoming offers a diversion program that allows people caught with small amounts of controlled substances to receive probation instead of going to trial. Participants are often required to complete some form of rehabilitation, and must pay fines and court costs. Upon successful completion of all obligations, the charges are dropped and the charge will not appear on a person’s criminal record. Of course, these programs require a legitimate effort to remain drug-free. Failure to do so can result in the original criminal charges being reinstated.
Another option is to fight a charge for possession of a controlled substance on the merits. By aggressively defending a misdemeanor charge for possession of a controlled substance, you may obtain a more favorable result simply by wearing down the prosecutor. Most drug possession charges are fairly routine. Yet by handling the case aggressively – making multiple requests for documents, witness statements, and other procedural busywork – you might convince the prosecutor to drop the charge or offer a reduced sentence. And if the state fails to provide the defense with request materials in discovery, the case may be dropped as a sanction against the state.
A skilled and experienced Wyoming drug possession defense lawyer can also challenge the means by which the evidence against you was obtained. At The Law Office of Christina L. Williams, my team of criminal defense professionals will attempt to show that the police officer did not have sufficient justification to stop you in the first place. We do this by showing that the police officer did not have a reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed, or lacked probable cause to make an arrest.
Even if the arrest was legal, we may be able to show that the search was invalid, that the officer lacked a warrant or probable cause, or that the warrant was invalid. When asking for your consent to a search, police officers often present the issue as if you have no choice. In actuality, unless the police officer has a warrant, you can always refuse to consent to a search of your car, residence, or person. A skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney can use these procedural errors to attempt to have the case dismissed or to negotiate a reduced sentence.
We may also be able to challenge your case on the basis of “constructive possession.” For example, if you borrowed a friend’s car, were stopped for running a red light, and the officer discovered small amounts of marijuana in the console, you may be arrested for illegal possession of a controlled substance. But the drugs are not yours. This may be enough to establish reasonable doubt that a skilled criminal defense attorney can use to have the charges dismissed or to negotiate a lighter sentence.
Finally, it is important to challenge lab results verifying that the substance in question is indeed an illegal controlled substance. By objecting to this evidence we leave open the possibility of challenging it and forcing the prosecutor to prove the issue at trial. This means the prosecutor must call a lab technician to testify, sometimes at considerable expense. Scheduling the lab technician to testify also adds another administrative obstacle for an overworked prosecutor. Sometimes, this can be enough to cause a prosecutor to reduce a charge or offer a reduced sentence. This is yet another reason that it’s important to work with a team of skilled criminal defense professionals. We have the experience and manpower to go the extra mile to challenge the results of a lab test.
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance, it’s important that you take these charges seriously. The results of a conviction, even for a “minor offense” can have lifelong consequences, including jail time, long probationary periods, fines, and administrative costs. A conviction for possession of a controlled substance also remains on your criminal record, and may jeopardize your eligibility for certain jobs or, if you are charged with a crime in the future, might be used to enhance those charges.
There are many reasons to hire an attorney to fight charges for possession of a controlled substance. Don’t leave your one shot at justice to chance. Contact my team of Wyoming criminal defense professionals at The Law Office of Christina Williams. Call (307) 686-6556, email email@example.com, or complete our online form.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.