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Facing drug charges can be a stressful experience. Lubbock drug trials can seem overwhelming at first, but a capable drug lawyer can help you through this process. For example, an experienced drug defense attorney who is well-versed in constitutional law will know to look for any potential constitutional issues in a Lubbock drug case when building a defense. Constitutional issues give the defense a basis for disputing evidence in the case and can be helpful in building a solid case.
One of the constitutional issues often seen in a Lubbock drug case concern the legality of the stop. It is important to look at the stop from both the standpoint of the federal constitution and the Texas Constitution. A lawyer will want to question whether the stop was legal under the Fourth Amendment and/or the Texas Constitution.
If the stop was not legal, in Texas, there is another provision of the Texas code of criminal procedure called 3823, which says, “If the evidence was illegally obtained and then the jury found that it was illegally obtained, then the jury shall disregard all the evidence that was illegally obtained.”
Most of the time, with a motion to suppress, alleging that the law has been violated, a judge who is going to make that determination. That is clearly true in Texas, but under 3823, if a fact issue arises, then the jury will also get to make that determination.
Example of an Unconstitutional Stop
For example, if the Lubbock police department stopped a person and the reason for the stop is that they were speeding, that would be legitimate. If when they stopped them, they smelled an odor of drugs and found five tons of cocaine, that would be valid.
However, it might turn out that the person was not speeding. The area that the person was driving in was clearly marked that it was 55 mile an hour, not 45 and the police officer was simply wrong on that assumption. Then the jury will be charged, unless they believe beyond a reasonable doubt that they had the right to stop them, they shall disregard anything that came up from the illegal activity.
In this case, the illegal activity would be the illegal stop and so it would not matter what they found, what the police found in the search, whether it was a small amount of drugs or a whole lot of drugs or something else that was illegal, it still would not be legal. Because of these constitutional issues in a Lubbock drug case, the jury will be required to disregard that and not consider that evidence.
In addition to the issues of the stop, one of the constitutional issues in a Lubbock drug case that is almost always discussed or litigated is the potential of any search warrant, whether there is enough probable cause that the officer has to ask a neutral and detached magistrate to sign a search warrant. Other areas of the search warrant that can be contested are whether there is enough in the four corners of the affidavit that the officer signs to give credence to the warrant if it was executed in a timely manner, whether it was properly executed, and whether a proper magistrate signed it under the law.
Typically, there is only a 72-hour rule that from the time that is signed by the magistrate to the time that it has to be executed, it has to be within 72 hours and there have been cases where it was after that period of time. Also, there can be issues dealing with the chemist. Sometimes, the district attorney’s office will decide they do not want to bring the actual chemist and they will try to file the report with some other paperwork and allege if that is enough to allow that into evidence.
Fifth and Sixth Amendments
There are some constitutional challenges including a whole area of one’s Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross-examine a person’s accuser that will be litigated in that area as well.Finally, the Fifth Amendment right is often contested pretty heavily at this time. Any statements that the client made while they were under custodial interrogation are all areas that an attorney would want to make sure that they would potentially litigate before and during any trial.
How Constitutional Issues Impact the Case
The overall answer is that if one of these issues is violated from the state’s standpoint, then either the entire case may go away or certain evidence may go away. For example, if there was a Fifth Amendment issue, and the client was placed under arrest. They were asked questions that led them during custodial interrogation to make incriminating statements and tell the officer where more drugs were and maybe based upon that scenario, the drugs were found based upon this Fifth Amendment violation, it would not be admissible.
Now, if it is a Fourth Amendment issue, an unreasonable search, based upon the warrant, then that evidence would not come in or based upon the legality of the stop. If it is a stop issue and the stop is not legal, then maybe none of the evidence comes in, so it changes it from a case of a lot of liability to maybe a dismissal.
Value of an Attorney
A skilled drug lawyer can examine all of the existing facts of the case and see if there are any constitutional issues in a Lubbock drug case that they can leverage to help build your defense. If you are going to trial for a Lubbock drug charge, contact an attorney that will fight for you.