Getting arrested and charged for drug possession or distribution in Rutherford County is a serious issue. Police in Tennessee are aggressive about enforcing drug prohibition laws, particularly in college areas and during Bonnaroo season (early summer). Regardless of whether you are facing charges for marijuana (cannabis), heroin, or synthetic/designer drugs like Flakka or Molly, you need to be proactive about protecting your rights and your future. While some misdemeanor drug charges may be issued via a citation as opposed to an arrest, those charges still pose a serious threat to your future.
Find an attorney as soon as possible
Over42,000 people are charged with drug offenses in Tennessee each year. It is best to ask for an attorney at the moment of your arrest. You shouldn’t assume that simple marijuana possession or a similar offense isn’t a big deal. Don’t talk to police without a skilled attorney present to help uphold your civil rights under the Constitution!
Experienced attorneys also know about alternatives to incarceration for those charged with drug offenses. From having your record sealed or expunged upon completion of community service, a drug offender education course and probation, diversion from criminal court, treatment facilities or retirement of the charges, there are many options available to those charged with drug offenses. Most of these options are only available to those with skilled legal representation.
Take notes to help in your defense
If you have reason to believe your rights were violated, you should take thorough notes, including officer names, dates, times, and an in-depth description of what happened. If you believe that you were a victim of a search or property seizure that violated your rights, if you were threatened or coerced into confession to a crime, or if there was a law enforcement violation of your Miranda rights, make a note about what happened as soon as possible. If you or someone else is able to record a video of the violation in process, this will also be helpful. Be sure to share this information with your attorney immediately.
You should also take note if a confidential informant was used to obtain information leading to your search or arrest. Confidential informants are generally already convicted of crimes and are trying to obtain reduced sentencing by supplying law enforcement with an ongoing supply of drug offenders, making them unreliable, at best.
Don’t plead guilty: Criminal drug charges can haunt you
Police, prosecutors, and even your judge may try to pressure you into accepting a plea bargain, wherein you accept reduced penalties or a reduced charge if you plead guilty to the offense. This may be tempting to some, as the penalties for felony drug charges are much steeper, including permanent voter disenfranchisement.
Additionally, if the original charge is a felony, pleading guilty to a reduced charge can still result in a permanent issue with regard to housing and employment. Thanks to the Internet, background check companies and even employers can discover the original charge was a felony, and they may assume that you were guilty of the felony, even if you weren’t convicted of a felony charge. The best way to prevent this kind of lifelong consequence is to request an experienced drug defense attorney as soon as you are arrested, charged, or cited for a drug offense.