Drug Offenses

Things Slow Down

September 23, 2013 Drug Offenses

I always have the best intentions after attending a good CLE.  Returning to my office with a binder full of great information, I have every intention of reading through all the materials that were just referenced during the training.  The binder lies on my desk for a couple of days.  After a week of so, […]

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James Shellow: Cross-Examining the Analyst in a Drug Prosecution

February 8, 2013 Drug Offenses

There are certain reference materials that are essential to a law practice.  In the case of a criminal defense practice in D.C., for example, you could not get by without the D.C. crimes code, jury instructions, rules of evidence, sentencing guidelines, the two volumes of the Criminal Practice Institute’s manual, and some type of legal […]

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Cocaine Possession: Alternative Treatment for First-Time Drug Offenders in D.C.

April 10, 2011 Drug Offenses

With first-time offender treatment in D.C. generally restricted to marijuana possession, prosecutors frequently offer consideration under Section 48-904.01(e) of the D.C. Code as an alternative to taking a case to trial. Depending on the case, treatment under the Section can in fact be the preferred option for people charged with first-time possession of cocaine and […]

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Disorderly Conduct: D.C. Court Narrows The Scope

June 13, 2010 Drug Offenses

Disorderly conduct is a really annoying charge. The first problem is that the offense is usually so broad and poorly defined that it is too easy for police to charge and too easy for the government to prove at trial.  For example, since intent to cause a “public inconvenience” is a major element of the […]

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Use of An Expert Witness in a D.C. Drug or DWI/DUI Case

March 5, 2010 Drug Offenses

I used to hire a particular expert witness in Philadelphia on drug distribution cases, a guy named David Leff.  Leff was so good — that is, he had so much credibility with judges — that I rarely had to call him to the stand.   Sometimes all he needed to do was walk into the room […]

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“Constructive Possession” in a D.C. Drug or Firearm/ Gun/Weapon Case

January 4, 2010 Drug Offenses

A defendant can in some cases be convicted of a criminal offense in Washington, D.C. for doing nothing more than possessing a particular object or substance. According to D.C. law, for example, it is illegal to possess marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other substances that are controlled under the D.C. Controlled Substances Act.  Possession of other […]

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Drugs: Simple Possession

October 12, 2009 Drug Offenses

There are two basic drug offenses in the District of Columbia: (1) drug possession, and (2) drug dealing. Today’s entry will deal with the misdemeanor offense of drug possession. The crime of drug possession requires: (1) knowing or intentional (2) possession of (3) controlled substance. The defendant can use the affirmative defense that the contraband […]

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Drugs: Judge or Jury Trial

October 11, 2009 Criminal Procedure

Sometimes, after the pre-trial motions have been litigated and any plea bargaining negotiations have been concluded, a defendant needs to have his or her day in court. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial for “all” criminal offenses. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this requirement to apply only to “serious” […]

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Drugs: Admissibility of Statements

October 7, 2009 Criminal Procedure

Many people assume that if the police did not read the defendant his or her Miranda rights (“You have the right to remain silent,” etc.) during any phase of police investigation, the whole case will be thrown out. This is not true. In fact, any statements the defendant or any co-conspirators make would normally be […]

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Drugs: Search Warrants and Pedestrian/Car Stops

October 7, 2009 Criminal Procedure

One key to successfully defending drug cases is to keep out as much evidence as possible from the prosecution’s case at trial. Trials are basically a struggle between the two sides as to what evidence comes in and what evidence does not come in. That’s why the Rules of Evidence are so important in litigation. […]

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