Drug crimes

AuthorTimothy E. Zerillo
Drug cases involve people in all walks of life. Compared to other areas of my practice, my clients with
drug cases seem to be among the most diverse. I’ve represented doctors, lawyers and politicians accused
in drug crimes. You can, at the same time, have very hardcore drug traff‌ickers facing life sentences
in federal court, and a soccer mom facing a drug felony because she got hooked on some pain pills
after a back injury. Your clients can range from extremely violent, to weak and very passive. They are
sometimes sophisticated and knowledgeable when it comes to court and dealing with the police, and
sometimes they really don’t have a clue.
Like an actor with range, the lawyer needs to be multiple characters to his or her clients from the drug
world. For some, you need to be tough, f‌iling motions, contesting every piece of evidence and pounding
the table. For others, you need to be the shoulder to cry on and an advocate for the addicted.
In either situation, drug cases can be exciting and frustrating at the same time. They present opportunities
to deal with diverse areas of law and science, all in a very high stakes game.
Before I begin highlighting various areas in drug practice, I want to mention the issue of treatment. In
every case (virtually) I recommend drug treatment for my client. Even if someone used marijuana one
time and got caught with it that one time, I recommend treatment. The types of treatment depend on
the case, but drug treatment can never hurt your case.
Remind your clients to be careful in group settings. If they want to try AA or NA, that is f‌ine, but it is of
limited use to their case. You need them in a privileged treatment setting. The intensity of that treatment
really depends on the addiction and the facts of the case.
§7:01 Will Humanizing the Defendant Help?
§7:02 My Favorite Federal Case
§7:03 Can Pretrial Diversion Be a Solution?
§7:04 The Outcome
§7:05 FORM 7-10 Letter #1 in Support of Diversion
§7:06 FORM 7-20 Letter #2 in Support of Diversion
§7:07 FORM 7-30 Letter #3 in Support of Diversion
A. Elements and Common Scenarios
§7:20 The Elements
§7:21 The Weekend User—“Whose Vial Is That Anyway?”
§7:22 The Addict
Defending Specif‌ic Crimes 7-2
B. Strategies and Tactics
§7:30 Drug Counseling
§7:31 Point to an Alternative Suspect in a Possession Case
§7:32 Hire a Chemist
§7:33 Drug Dog Tactics
§7:34 Challenge Race In Your Stop
C. Discovery and Suppression Motions
§7:40 Suppressing Evidence Found During Search of Vehicle Incident to Arrest
§7:41 Suppressing Statements in Case of Unlawful Detention
§7:42 Suppressing Evidence Found as Result of Illegal Stop of Vehicle
§7:43 Suppressing Evidence Found During Entry into Home Based on Plain View
§7:44 FORM 7-40 Motion to Suppress: Entry into Home Based on Plain View, Miranda Violation
§7:45 FORM 7-50 Motion for Discovery: Drug Dog, Lengthy Detention, Miranda, Consent
§7:46 FORM 7-60 Motion to Suppress: Illegal Stop; Extended Detention; Involuntary
Consent; Miranda Violation; Drug Dog; Search Warrant
D. Trial: Drugs Found During Traff‌ic Stop
§7:60 Sample Cross-Examination of Cop—Lack of Knowledge of How Drugs Got in Vehicle
§7:61 Closing Argument—Point the Finger at Other Vehicle Occupants
A. Elements and Common Scenarios
§7:70 The Elements
§7:71 The Addict
§7:72 The Full-Time, For Prof‌it, Seller
§7:73 Selling and Furnishing in General
§7:74 School Zones and Safe Zones
B. Strategies and Tactics
§7:80 Identifying Snitches
§7:81 FORM 7-70 Motion to Disclose Conf‌idential Informant
§7:82 Representing Snitches
§7:83 FORM 7-80 Proffer Agreement
§7:84 School Zones, Safe Zones and Surveyors
§7:85 Cross Racial Identif‌ication
§7:86 FORM 7-90 Motion to Suppress Eyewitness Identif‌ication
§7:87 FORM 7-91 Motion to Dismiss, Destruction of Evidence
§7:88 Sample Cross-Examination of Drug Agent, Destruction of Evidence
C. Trial
§7:100 Sample Opening Statement—Reasonable Doubt Re Cross-Racial Identif‌ication
§7:101 Sample Cross-Examination of Undercover Cop in a Drug Sale on Identif‌ication
§7:102 Sample Cross-Examination of Snitch
§7:103 Sample Cross-Examination of Chemist
§7:104 Sample Cross-Examination of Cop—Multiple People in the Car
§7:105 Sample Closing Argument—Reasonable Doubt
A. Strategies
§7:110 The Elements
§7:111 Downward Sentencing Adjustments for Small-Time Players
§7:112 Withdrawal from the Conspiracy
§7:113 Upward Sentencing Adjustments for the Head Honcho
B. Motions
§7:120 Motion for Bill of Particulars
§7:121 FORM 7-100 Motion for Bill of Particulars
7-3 Drug Crimes
C. Trial
§7:130 Client May Have No Choice Other Than to Testify
§7:131 Sample Direct Examination of Defendant Regarding Withdrawal
§7:140 Analysis of Search Warrant Aff‌idavit for Lack of Probable Cause
§7:141 FORM 7-110 Memorandum on Defendant’s Motion to Suppress—Defective Warrant Aff‌idavit
§7:142 Sample Cross-Examination of Cop at Suppression Hearing

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