Catching and prosecuting suspected drug traffickers is a huge priority for both state and federal law enforcement officials in North Carolina. In many cases, drug investigations can persist for weeks or even months before arrests are made. During this time, police work to amass significant evidence from wiretaps, surveillance, undercover officers and sting operations that can be difficult to combat in court.
An illustrative example of the reach these investigations can have can be found in a recent North Carolina initiative to arrest and prosecute individuals suspected of trafficking in crack cocaine.
In February, one of the suspects in that investigation was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. Prosecutors alleged that the man sold more than 100 grams of crack cocaine to an undercover officer. In addition, a search of the man's residence uncovered an additional 36 grams of the drug.
To date, the man was the 23rd person to have been sentenced to federal prison in connection with the investigation.
Defending against North Carolina drug charges
When drug charges - or any other criminal charges, for that matter - stem from a widespread police investigation, it is extremely important for those accused to ensure that the evidence against them was gathered legally.
For example, both the North Carolina and U.S. Constitutions give people a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that, in most cases, police must get a warrant in order to search a person's home or property. Warrants cannot be issued unless there is sufficient probable cause to believe that the person is involved in a crime. Probable cause is also required for police to make a traffic stop.
Similarly, police officers are required to respect criminal suspects' rights to consult with an attorney and to refuse to make self-incriminating statements. What's more, after an arrest is made and the suspect is taken into custody, police are required to give notice of these rights. This is commonly referred to as a Miranda warning.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to examine every facet of the investigation leading to the suspect's arrest, in order to ensure that evidence was obtained legally. If it was not, the attorney can work to prevent that evidence from being used at trial.
In addition, the attorney will also work to ensure that legally-obtained evidence is reliable and trustworthy, and to counter evidence that isn't. Essentially, a criminal defense attorney's job is to point out the flaws in the prosecution's case so that the suspect's guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a serious criminal offense, it is important to get experienced help. A North Carolina criminal defense attorney can help you assert your rights and protect your future.