Nationally Recognized Criminal Defense Attorneys Defending Clients Facing All Types of Narcotics Offenses
While there has been a recent shift across much of the country in terms of the prosecution and punishment of non-violent drug crimes, Idaho is behind the curve. In fact, in recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Idaho drug crime prosecutions. According to the most recent government data, between 2014 and 2018, there was a 40% increase in the number of Idaho drug arrests. In part, this is due to the increasing impact of the opioid epidemic, especially as it impacts rural and suburban areas. If you were charged with an Idaho drug crime, you face potentially crippling punishments, including fines, probation and incarceration. In some cases, Idaho drug laws even call for mandatory minimum sentences. Whether you’ve been charged with possession, possession with intent to distribute, or trafficking drugs, you need an experienced Idaho drug crime defense lawyer who will take your case as seriously as you do.
At The Criminal Defense Firm, we represent clients facing all types of drug offenses. Our veteran team of criminal defense attorneys has centuries of combined experience successfully handling some of the most serious drug crimes, and we know what it takes to mount a successful defense to these charges. Several of our senior attorneys formerly held high-ranking positions as state and federal prosecutors, giving us a unique insight into how the government pursues these cases. We use this knowledge to develop compelling defenses that give you the best chance of favorably resolving your case.
Idaho Drug Crimes Explained
Idaho has some of the strictest drug crimes in the United States. While other areas of the country have stepped away from the over-prosecution of many minor drug offenses, including marijuana possession, that isn’t the case in Idaho. In fact, marijuana offenses make up the majority of drug prosecutions in the state.
Idaho classifies all drugs into one of six categories, or schedules.
Schedule I: Drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical use, such as heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, and certain hallucinogenic drugs.
Schedule II: Drugs that have a high potential for abuse and limited acceptable medical uses, such as cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and opium.
Schedule III: Drugs that have a lower potential for abuse and have some acceptable medical uses but also carry the potential for physical dependence, such as LSD, certain stimulants, and ketamine.
Schedule IV: Drugs that have a lower potential for abuse and have accepted medical uses but also have the potential for physical dependence, including diazepam and Xanax.
Schedule V: Drugs that have a fairly low potential for abuse, significant medical uses, and a fairly low risk of physical dependence, including medications with relatively low levels of narcotics, such as codeine-based cough syrup.
Schedule VI: Drugs containing volatile nitrates, more commonly referred to as “poppers.”
Schedule I offenses are the most serious; however, any conviction for an Idaho drug crime can carry the potential for incarceration. For example, most drug offenses can be either misdemeanors or felonies, and even a misdemeanor drug possession conviction can result in punishment of up to one year in jail. Of course, if you are accused of manufacturing, selling, or possessing with intent to distribute, you will face felony drug charges.
How Prosecutors Try to Prove Drug Charges
If you’ve been charged with an Idaho drug crime, it’s easy to lose hope. However, it is important to keep in mind that prosecutors must prove that you knowingly and intentionally possessed the drug beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Counts as Possession?
When thinking about possession, it’s easy to assume that it means the drugs were physically on your person. However, there is no legal requirement that the drugs were found on you to prosecute you for possession. This is because prosecutors often claim that defendants were in “constructive possession” of drugs. Construction possession is a sort of legal fiction in which prosecutors can establish you possessed by showing that you knowingly exercised control over the drugs.
For example, assume you are in a car that is occupied by three other people. Police pull over the car, and the driver gives the officers consent to search the vehicle. During the search, officers find a bag of heroin under the front passenger seat. Under the theory of constructive possession, prosecutors may have enough evidence to charge any of the vehicle’s occupants with possession. And, if that bag contained enough heroin such that the prosecutors believed the owner had the intent to sell the drugs, all occupants could face felony drug distribution charges.
However, constructive possession can be challenging for prosecutors to prove, and an experienced Idaho drug lawyer may be able to convince the court or a jury that you did not knowingly exercise control over the drugs. For example, the following facts may come into play:
- Did officers see any of the vehicle’s occupants reaching towards the drugs?
- Did anyone else in the car make statements regarding the drugs, either before or after they were found?
- Did anyone else in the vehicle have drugs on them?
- Were there other occupants who were closer to the drugs?
Were the Drugs for Personal Use?
One of the major points in any Idaho drug crime is whether the defendant possessed the drugs for personal use. If so, the offense is much less serious than if they had the intent to sell them. However, again, prosecutors do not need direct evidence of a drug transaction to charge someone with selling drugs. More specifically, Idaho law provides threshold amounts for each type of drug. If you possess over that threshold amount, you will face heightened penalties.
Defending Against Idaho Drug Crimes
Just because you’ve been charged with a drug crime does not mean that you are guilty. In fact, there are many defenses to these charges. At The Criminal Defense Firm, our dedicated team of Idaho drug crime defense lawyers have extensive, hands-on experience litigating a wide range of drug possession and distribution offenses. We routinely create compelling defenses on behalf of our clients, many of which involve the following:
Illegally Obtained Evidence
Police officers who investigate drug crimes must do so within the bounds of the law. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Historically, this meant that police officers were unable to conduct a search unless they had a warrant. However, over time, courts allowed an increasing number of exceptions to the warrant requirement.
Today, the general rule is that police officers cannot stop someone for suspicion of a drug crime unless they have reasonable suspicion that the person they intend to stop committed a crime. If an officer develops reasonable suspicion, they can stop you and perform a limited pat-down of your outer clothing. However, they cannot engage in a full search. To conduct a search, officers must have probable cause. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion.
If evidence was illegally obtained by police, it is not admissible at trial. However, you must first convince the court that the evidence was obtained in violation of your rights by litigating a motion to suppress. A motion to suppress is a pre-trial hearing in which the arresting officer testifies to the circumstances of the arrest. Your Idaho drug defense lawyer will have an opportunity to cross-examine the officer, exposing any potential inconsistencies or violations of your rights. If the court determines that the officer is not being truthful or otherwise infringed upon your state or federally protected rights, it will order the evidence suppressed.
Challenging Lab Tests and Chain of Custody
To prove you guilty of possessing a controlled substance, the government must establish that the substance you had was illegal. Not only that, but prosecutors also need to prove that you possessed the particular substance you’ve been charged with. To do this, prosecutors will send the substance to a lab, which will conduct a chemical test of the substance. In most cases, this process is fairly smooth; however, the government is responsible for ensuring that the drugs chain of custody is documented. Otherwise, there is no telling if the substances the government presents at trial were actually the ones officers found in connection with your case. Additionally, drug labs occasionally make errors in how they process these tests, opening the door for a skilled Idaho drug crime defense lawyer to challenge the chemical makeup of the substance.
As noted above, prosecutors often rely on constructive possession to prove that a defendant possessed narcotics. It may be that officers believed they witnessed a drug sale and then found a stash in a nearby location or that officers found drugs in an area accessible by others. Whatever the case, a dedicated Idaho drug defense attorney can often challenge the prosecutor’s assumption that you knew the narcotics were there. If so, you cannot be found guilty.
If you face serious drug charges, chances are there are one or more defenses that apply to your case. At The Criminal Defense Firm, our veteran Idaho drug charge defense lawyers have the experience and knowledge you need to create the best possible defense.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is marijuana legal in Idaho?
No, marijuana in all forms is illegal in Idaho, regardless of whether it is for medical or recreational use. In fact, Idaho has some of the strictest penalties in the country for marijuana crimes. Even possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by a year in jail. Also, marijuana is the most commonly seized drug in the state, with law enforcement recovering more than 1220 pounds of marijuana each year. These cases result in more than 6,000 arrests. At The Criminal Defense Firm, our Idaho drug crime lawyers recognize that, while marijuana possession elsewhere in the country might not be all that serious, that’s not the case in Idaho. Thus, we take an all-hands-on-deck approach to marijuana offenses, treating them just as seriously as any other Idaho drug crime.
Q: Should I consider taking a deal in my Idaho drug case?
It’s no secret that the vast majority of criminal cases end in a plea agreement. However, this isn’t because all of these defendants are guilty. People make deals with prosecutors for reasons other than the fact that they are guilty. However, at The Criminal Defense Firm, we believe that approaching prosecutors for a deal early on in the process only hands prosecutors all the power in the negotiation process. Instead, our Idaho drug crime defense lawyers conduct a thorough investigation into the government’s case, looking for any holes. If we can identify a flaw in the prosecution’s case, it necessarily increases our bargaining power. We can use this information to seek outright dismissal or if that’s not an option, a favorable plea agreement. Of course, if the prosecution is unwilling to extend a fair offer, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial to secure the best possible result.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Idaho Drug Crime Defense Attorney at The Criminal Defense Firm
The thought of going up against the government in an Idaho drug case can be overwhelming. Prosecutors routinely handle these cases and, for the most part, know what they are doing. You should ensure that you have an attorney who is prepared to defend your case on all fronts. At The Criminal Defense Firm, our dedicated team of Idaho criminal defense attorneys has centuries of experience defending clients from serious felony and misdemeanor drug crimes. We take an all-hands-on-deck approach to each case we handle, ensuring that your arrest will have as little impact on your life as possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give The Criminal Defense Firm a call at 866-603-4540. You can also connect with our attorneys through the firm’s online contact form.
Further Information About Defense of Federal Drug Charges
- Federal Drug Charges
- Drug Crimes Lawyer
- Drug Manufacturing
- Drug Possession
- Drug Trafficking
- Illegal Importation of Drugs
- Defense Lawyers for Online Drug Trafficking
- Prescription Drug Crimes
- Possession With Intent to Distribute
- Prohibited Substances