Common Client Mistakes that are Detrimental to their Case
Interviewer: What are some things that people do that hurt your case?
Matthew Nebeker: Usually, what I see how people hurt their case is they start talking to the police. They don’t exercise their right to remain silent. Here’s what usually happens is the individual is scared. The police officer says, “If you tell us about this, where you got it, what it is”. A lot of times the police don’t even know what it is when they find it.
The person will admit, “Yeah, this is spice. I got it from so-and-so and he lives at this address.” A lot of times, the officers won’t do anything to help them after they’ve gotten all of this information.
Making Statements to the Police in the Absence of an Attorney is Not Advisable
The client feels like they’re really cooperating with the police. They’re giving them all this information. Maybe the police officer will let me out or cut me a break or something like that. Most of the time they don’t. They arrest them and book them. The prosecutor has their own words that they’ve spoken and uses that against them. A lot of things that I see they did that really hurt their case is they don’t come and ask for help. They don’t seek out the advice of a criminal defense DUI drug charge attorney to help them get through the system and look at their case for defenses.
Mitigating Factors for a Drug Related Case in Utah
Interviewer: What are some things on the other side of that spectrum that help people out? What are some few things that you’re going to recommend to someone or things that you’re going to want to protect them from or things that help their case?
Matthew Nebeker: The things that will help their case is obviously exercise their right to remain silent. When they’re arrested – I know this is kind of after the fact – that’s the biggest thing they can do, is exercise their right to remain silent.
The next best thing that they can do is contact an attorney that’s experienced in this drug type of charges and offenses. After that, the next thing is get into some kind of program. Go and seek treatment. I help my client. If you got a problem, I ask them straight out, “Let’s get you started in the counseling.” One of the big goals in the court is to make sure that this is not a problem that is not going to happen again in the future.
Recognizing and Accepting that You Have a Drug Problem is a Mitigating Factor
I always confront them and say, “Is this a recreational thing?” Or trying to find out what this is doing in their life. Most of the time, if it’s a heavier narcotic or street drug then they’ve got a problem. It can help their case a lot in dealings with the prosecutor, at sentencing, representing to the judge that they immediately went out and sought help. They recognize their problem and they’re trying to deal with it. That goes a long way in these types of cases.
Being an Informant may be Helpful but it is a Risky and Dangerous Proposition
Interviewer: Have you ever worked with cases where being an informant would assist someone or help someone?
Matthew Nebeker: Yes. We see that quite a bit. One thing in that goes back to after the initial arrest, the officer is going to try and get the individual to work for them, to go and make purchases for them, to identify who their supplier is, things like that. Sometimes in those cases, that can really help with their current charges. If that individual wants to do that, I recommend that it be set up through the attorney, through negotiations and there’s something in writing that will protect the individual.
This is a scary thing for them to do. A lot of times, the people can be very dangerous. If they find out, they could get hurt. A lot of times we’ve seen this where the individual’s gone – they come to me after the fact, after the arrest. They said they worked with the officer. They helped get some other purchases made or ratted someone out, basically, and the police haven’t done anything for them. They have honored their end of the bargain. They’re just taken advantage of, basically.
It is Important to Involve Both Your Attorney and the Prosecution Attorney in Negotiations to be an Informant
If the person is going to do that, they need to do it through the attorney and make sure that there’s something in writing and the prosecuting attorney is also involved in those kinds of negotiations. That does happen a lot. That’s another way where I see a lot of people getting charged. They will come to me and say, “I’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance or distribution.” What they’ve done is the police has pressed charges against someone and then hired that individual. They’ve given him money and they’ve sent them out to make these purchases. Usually, it’s someone that my client is close to. It’s someone who they thought has been their friend or a family member or something like that. They’ve sold something, some kind of narcotic to this friend or family member and the person is actually working for the police. It’s really a shock to them when they find out that their friend or family member did this to them. That’s the way the system works.