Is Pleading Guilty and Throwing Yourself at the Mercy of the Court a Good Idea?
Interviewer: Should people plead guilty and throw themselves at the mercy of the court or should they fight for charges?
Matthew Nebeker: No. I do see that a lot, where they’re worn down. They don’t have the will to fight. They just go in there. They take whatever the prosecutor’s willing to give them. They go in there and they think that because they’re just cooperating with everyone and they’re not giving everyone a difficult time that they’re going to get off easier and it’s going to be somehow be better for them. They should never just go in there and do that. There’s usually always a defense on some level in a drug charge case. Like I mentioned earlier, one of the potential defenses is with the contact with law enforcement.
There are Multiple Avenues to Defending a Drug Related Charge
Why did they stop the individual? Why did they pull their car over? What led the police to have contact with them? That’s called a seizure under the Constitution, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The officers have to have a legal reason to see you then. The other potential defense is the search. There has to be a warrant or they has to be an arrest. There has to be probable cause for either one of those. How did that officer develop his probable cause to arrest the person so they could search the person and find the drugs or search the home and find the drugs?
Once they do obtain the substance, was it properly stored? Was it properly handled? Was it taken to the police evidence room or was it left back in the officer’s patrol car for a month? Who analyzed it at the lab once it got to the lab? Was it a properly trained technician? Was the machine operating properly on that day? Was there any maintenance problems? What did the machine actually print out?
The Test Results to Determine the Type of Drug by the Prosecution can Be Disputed
A lot of times, the test results that we get back from the state in the prosecution; it doesn’t even say what kind of testing they used to determine it was methamphetamine. It just says it was positive for methamphetamine. The toxicologist signed their name but it doesn’t even go into what method they used and how much was there. All that becomes a potential defense for the individual charged with drug charges. Like I mentioned, there’s usually something there. It might not be great but defense attorneys, they’re good at taking small, tiny things and making them into big deals and big issues to get the case drawn out or to get the charges reduced and minimize the impact to the client.
They should never go in there and cooperate with the prosecutor and just go ahead and plead guilty because there’s always room for a negotiation and errors in the whole process.