Wrong Conviction: A Product of Bias and Overzealousness

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) makes more than 30,000 drug-related arrests every year. These arrests are based on various drug-related activities, which include simple possession, sale of a controlled substance, drug manufacturing, possession with intent, drug trafficking, and drug conspiracy. Two bases of arrests frequently made by state or federal law enforcers are simple possession of illegal drugs and possession with intent.

Simple possession alleges that an individual has a controlled substance for his or her own personal use (illegal or controlled substance includes cocaine, heroin, marijuana and ecstasy, which is otherwise known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or simply MDMA. Heroin, marijuana and ecstasy are Schedule I drugs or drugs with no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse; cocaine, on the other hand, is a Schedule II drug or a type of illegal drug that has high potential for abuse, the use of which can potentially lead to severe psychological or physical dependence).

Possession with intent, on the other hand, which is a worse offense than simple possession, alleges that a person, who has illegal drugs in his/her possession, has intent to sell, distribute, deliver, or even manufacture the controlled substance. A charger that may supposedly just be simple possession can be elevated to possession with intent if the amount of drugs possessed is more than enough or too much for personal consumption. Also, the presence of some items, like small plastic bags, containers, and scales can most likely indicate that a person does have intent to sell. While simple possession may only be a misdemeanor, possession with intent is a felony.

Drug-related activities are punished with mandatory sentences, steep fines, and possibly many hours of community service, among others. A mandatory sentence refers to the penalties a court must hand down to a person convicted of certain offense. Felony offenses, under state law, are punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one year imprisonment. Class A felonies, which are the most serious of offenses under state law, carry a mandatory minimum of 15 years jail time. Mandatory minimum sentences, however, may be increased due to certain factors, such as prior convictions or aggravating factors.

Though arrested suspects in drug-related crimes are given the chance to defend themselves in court, actual court cases show and prove that many have been convicted of the crime they have been charged with due to certain biases or offer of to plea bargain, wherein an accused is promised minimum sentence if he/she will confess to the crime.

As explained by Ian Inglis Attorney at Law, wrongful arrests have also been made many times in the past due to the enormous emphasis which state and federal governments place on enforcing laws against the possession, sale, or manufacturing of illicit drugs. Thus, many of those accused of a crime find themselves facing potentially severe penalties for seemingly minor offenses.