JOHN PAUL DEVERNA IS A FORMER NARCOTICS PROSECUTOR
John Paul DeVerna, as a former felony prosecutor, has years of experience on both sides of the aisle and is qualified to defend your drug case. The strategies and tactics learned while prosecuting and defending these types of cases may be enough to demonstrate that you are not guilty.
WHAT THE PROSECUTOR MUST TO DO WIN
An arrest is only an accusation. To be convicted of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, Criminal Possession of Marihuana, Unlawful Possession of Marihuana, or any other drug crime, the Prosecutor must prove each and every element of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY DEFEND A DRUG CASE
The Prosecutor will attempt to prove an accused is guilty by introducing testimonial, physical, and scientific evidence. Each of these types of "evidence" may be subject to error. A drug case has many areas where law enforcement may have gotten it wrong or even broken the law.
Below are a few areas a good defense attorney may explore that could undermine the prosecutor's argument that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a drug trial.
*The information below is general information meant for educational purposes. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person who views it. If you think you need personalized legal assistance, always speak with a qualified attorney.
BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS...
POSSIBLE WAYS TO DEFEND A DRUG CASE...
REMEMBER: The information below is general information meant for educational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person who views it. If you need personalized legal assistance, always speak with a qualified attorney.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS MATTER IN A DRUG CASE.
Often times these constitutional protections are the best defense when fighting a drug case. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you fight your case.
1. WHAT IS THE FOURTH AMENDMENT?
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects each of us (and our property) from unreasonable search and seizure. This means the police are prohibited from stopping someone without reason, and cannot search someone without reasonable suspicion or probable cause they are involved in a crime.
2. WHY DO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS MATTER IN A DRUG CASE?
In most drug and narcotics cases, the government stops and searches a person, house or car, and seizes some type of narcotics, paraphernalia, packaging materials, scales and guns. If the police violated one's rights in obtaining their evidence, the evidence cannot be used in court (the evidence will be suppressed), and the case will most likely be dismissed.
3. WHAT IF THE POLICE STOPPED SOMEONE FOR NO REASON?
If a police officer had no right to stop the accused in the first place, and thus violated their right to be free from an arbitrary police encounter, anything said or recovered after that may be suppressed (cannot be used in court).
4. DID THE POLICE HAVE A RIGHT TO CONDUCT A SEARCH?
Even if the police had a right to approach, they are not authorized to search a person or property unless they have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe a crime was committed. If the police did not have this constitutional mandate, then the evidence was improperly obtained and would likely be suppressed (cannot be used in court).
5. SHOULD THE POLICE HAVE HAD A WARRANT?
The police do not always need a warrant to conduct a search. At certain times though, to aid in their investigation, the police go to a judge then ask for and are granted a warrant. If the police used faulty information, mislead the court or used an unreliable police informant in procuring a warrant, then the evidence may have been improperly obtained and the evidence may not be able to be used in court.
6. WHAT IF THE POLICE MISCONSTRUED WHAT WAS GOING ON?
In some cases, officers claim to have witnessed a drug deal from an observation point and may mistakenly arrest an individual for selling drugs when they were actually the buyer, or were not involved in a drug deal at all. If a lawyer can demonstrate this was actually the case, then he may be able to get the charges reduced or the case dismissed.
7. WHAT IF SOMEONE WAS DOING A FAVOR FOR THE REAL BUYER?
When a person assists another individual who is buying drugs and does so for little or no benefit of their own, the may deem the assistant an agent (also known as a "steerer"). The law makes a distinction between the parties because an agent's interests are more closely aligned with that of the buyer than that of the seller. When the law deems an individual an agent who received little or no benefit of the sale, that person may only be guilty as an accomplice to possession, not the sale.
8. WHAT IF IT WASN'T THE DRUG CLAIMED?
To prove their case, the Prosecutor must prove what the particular drug at issue is. While many believe that proving that is a straightforward process, drugs are tested by people, and people make mistakes.
DO CRIME LABS EVER MAKE MISTAKES ON THE SUBSTANCES THEY TEST?
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that laboratory technicians have to testify regarding the lab tests conducted in order for the results to be accepted into evidence. Nassau County's Lab, among others, has been shuttered because of negligent and dishonest criminalists who claimed they tested substances that they never tested. A mistake at the police lab can lead to dismissal of a case. A lawyer can have the substance tested by an independent laborartory to ensure the substance was properly tested.
Entrapment is an affirmative defense to any crime, including a drug crime. In essence it means that the accused was:
Induced or encouraged by a public servant (i.e., law enforcement) to engage in conduct; and
They were encouraged to do so to obtain evidence against the accused in a criminal prosecution; and
The method used to get the evidence created a substantial risk that the accused would commit the crime even though they were not generally disposed to commit the offense.
This is a seldom used defense because it is very difficult to prove, however the facts of a particular case may lend itself to the defense.