Westchester Drug Lawyer
If you’ve been arrested on drug charges, you are probably worried about your future. Maybe you’ve heard or even experienced first-hand how tough the system can be on people accused of drug-related crimes. Your concern is real, but you should know that things aren’t necessarily as bad as they seem.
Michael Litman has helped countless clients deal with legal challenges stemming from drug charges. As a Westchester County drug lawyer with years of experience, he’s been here with clients many times before, and he knows how to help.
How a Westchester Drug Lawyer Can Help
A skilled Westchester drug charge lawyer knows that there are several ways to lessen charges and, in some cases, have them dismissed altogether. How do drug lawyers do this? Here are just a few of the ways Michael Litman can help.
Investigating the arrest. Was the arrest handled by the book? Was it justified? Did the police overlook any necessary procedures or break any protocols while arresting you? Any oversights or mistakes before, during or after the arrest can undermine that arrest. If the police acted improperly, we’ll find out how.
Looking for inaccuracies in drug charges. Is the prosecutor’s case against you built on solid evidence, or is it a weak case? In some circumstances, the authorities make charges that can be contested, and a Westchester NY drug charge drug lawyer knows how to look for vulnerabilities in the case being made against his or her client.
Making sure your rights are protected. In addition to procedural mistakes during an arrest, an attorney will also look for other errors and overreaches by the authorities to make sure that their client hasn’t been mistreated. If a client’s rights have been violated, this gives your attorney the opportunity to go on the offensive.
Arranging a plea deal. An attorney can sometimes arrange a plea deal to have charges against their client lessened or dismissed. An attorney will make a case based on their client’s history, their current situation, or the circumstances of the arrest.
These are just a few of the methods an attorney might utilize when looking for ways to help a client; but each case is unique, and Michael Litman will approach your case based on the specifics of your arrest and the charges against you.
I’VE BEEN CHARGED, WHAT CAN HAPPEN NOW?
New York offers several types of diversion programs instead of jail time for eligible defendants.
- For defendants who are eligible, between arraignment and a plea they may request an evaluation for diversion to drug court.
- Drug court staff interviews and evaluates the defendant to make sure they are eligible.
- The evaluation is sent to the court, the prosecutor, and defense counsel.
- The court will then decide whether the diversion program is applicable.
- If accepted into diversion, there will be a written agreement outlining the terms of the defendant’s involvement in drug court.
- The defendant will be required to enter an initial plea of guilty, to at least one charge, for the court to use as leverage to make sure the drug court program is completed.
- If the defendant successfully completes drug court, often all charges are dismissed.
- However, if the defendant does not complete drug court, or if the defendant gets rearrested, they will face the alternative sentences that were outlined in the written agreement.
When a Friend or Family Member is Arrested on Drug Charges
It’s a call that no one wants to receive. You might be feeling anger, confusion and worry. It’s important to remain as calm as possible and contact a drug charge lawyer immediately. There is little you can do to help your loved one aside from putting a skilled, experienced drug lawyer on the case. This is the best favor you can do for your friend or family member.
The attorney will tell you if there’s anything else you can do to help your loved one. If you’ve received a call from a loved one arrested on drug charges, call drug lawyer Michael Litman immediately.
Make Your First Call to Westchester Drug Charges Lawyer Michael Litman
If you’re arrested for drug charges, the first request you should make is to call an attorney. Your attorney will immediately get to work on your defense by dealing with the authorities on your behalf and making sure you don’t do anything that is incriminating. After requesting an attorney, remain silent and wait for your lawyer to intervene.
The authorities might try to get you to make statements that will later be used against you, but you should resist the temptation to talk. Remember: Ask for your attorney and call Michael Litman.
How We Got Here – A (Very) Brief History of Our Nation’s Drug Laws
While every crime is serious, some are considered more “serious” than others. Since the advent of the War on Drugs, sentences for drug crimes have become exponentially more severe. In the 1980s, mandatory minimum sentences were added, taking away some of the judge’s discretion for sentencing and mandating a specific sentence for specific drug crimes; and for each drug offense, stricter sentences were put in place. The United States has more prisoners locked away than any other country in the world, and more than a quarter of them are in prison on drug charges.
A Common Offense in New York and Westchester County
New York is the fourth largest state by population in the U.S., with more than 19 million residents. According to the New York State Department of Criminal Justice, in 2016, the state made nearly 480,000 arrests – of those, 90,908 were for drug offenses. In Westchester County, with a population of approximately 950,000, there were 23,056 total arrests — 2,454 for drug offenses. With this many arrests, the problem is not just someone else’s, but one that’s never too far from home.
DRUG LAWS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE CHARGES
Drug laws vary, depending on several factors: the type of drug, the amount, and the charges– whether it is simply possession, trafficking, or any of a number of other circumstances. The most common drugs and their related laws in New York include:
Marijuana is considered a Schedule I substance, the amount of which will determine the level of the offense. Possession of less than 25 grams, as long as it is not burning or open to public view, is a violation. If the weight is more than 25 grams, it is a misdemeanor; and if the weight is more than 8 oz., it is a felony. The possible sentence increases, as with any drug offense, as the quantity increases. For first violations, there is no jail time; for a class C felony possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana, the maximum sentence could be 3½ to 9 years. Sentences for sale of marijuana similarly start at the misdemeanor level and can increase to the C felony level for selling more than 16 oz. of marijuana.
The offense level for cocaine can go much higher than marijuana – At the lowest level, possessing less than 500 milligrams is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail; in the most serious cases, possession of 8 oz. or more is a class A-1 felony, with a maximum sentence of 15-30 years. Sentences for sale of cocaine start as a class D felony and increase up to a class A-1 felony.
The penalties for heroin cases are similar to that of cocaine. Possession of more than 500 milligrams is a class D felony, and categorization and sentences go up until more than 8 oz. is a class A-1 felony. Intent to sell more than ½ oz. is a class A-II felony; more than 2 oz. is a class A-1 felony; and intent to sell any amount on school grounds or to someone under 21 is a Class B felony.