Every day, law enforcement officers arrest numerous people in the Charlotte area for minor and major criminal violations. In an attempt to reduce the criminal court’s load, a recent change to county policy should be reducing the number of people being arrested for low-level offenses, particularly in drug cases, as the district attorney has made it clear these cases will not be prosecuted. However, this policy shift has not stopped police from arresting individuals even though the charges against them will likely be dismissed.
According to a recently published news report, in Nov. 2020, the DA announced that his office will not be prosecuting the vast majority of drug-related crimes for the foreseeable future. Instead, he is going to focus on violent crimes and homicides. The reason behind this change is the backlog of cases that have yet to be heard due to court shutdowns related to the current health crisis.
The problem is, police have not changed their stance on the matter and are still arresting people for drug crimes because they feel it is their duty to do so. Rather than placing individuals under arrest for these crimes, the DA would like to see law enforcement officers confiscate the drugs and direct people to treatment programs. Arrests are still appropriate in cases involving:
- repeat offenders
- significant amounts of drugs
- proof of drug sales.
This whole situation is a matter of competing policies and agendas, and it is the accused individuals who find themselves caught in the middle. As long as police officers are arresting people for crimes that will no longer be prosecuted, those accused will needlessly spend time behind bars, miss out on work and not get the help they really need — among various other consequences. Regardless of whether their cases qualify for prosecution, with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, Charlotte residents who find themselves arrested on drug charges can take steps to address their situations quickly and fight for the best possible outcomes.