Imagine being in the car with a friend who is driving. The two of you are on your way somewhere when the flashing lights of a patrol car appear behind you. You are unsure as to why a police officer would want to pull your friend's vehicle over. As the officer approaches, both of you are nervous.
Because of your nerves, you and your friend are giving the officer different stories so he searches the car. To your surprise, the search turns up a large amount of drugs as well as a firearm hidden in the vehicle. You realize that you could be facing some very serious drug charges.
But you had no idea that the drugs were in the car. Even so, you are charged with dealing cocaine and for possession of drugs. The penalty if convicted of this charge is up to 50 years in prison.
Is this scenario far-fetched? It was reality for a Wisconsin man who had been in his friend's vehicle when it was stopped and searched. The search turned up several bricks of cocaine as well as a gun. The man was charged with several drug crimes and was facing a severe penalty.
Does it make sense to assume that a passenger in a vehicle knows that drugs are hidden inside it? How can prosecutors even prove that knowledge? These were the questions that were raised to the court in the man's defense. The vehicle was owned by his friend and it is difficult to establish that the man was aware of the hidden drugs.
As a result, the Wisconsin man pled guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to half-a-year in prison. This sentence was a far cry from the 20 to 50 years he could have been sentenced to under the original drug charges.
It is this type of distinction and defense that can make a difference between a life-changing sentence and a chance to start over. Speaking with someone who understands drug crime defense can help protect a person's rights and future.
Source: Chicago Post-Tribune: "Passenger in car with drugs pleads to lesser charge," James D. Wolf Jr., Sept. 10, 2011