Interviewer: What would you say are the avenues of defense you pursue in a drug-related case?
Did Reasonable Suspicion Exist to Warrant a Police Stop?
David Horan: Every case rises and falls on its own merits. Someone comes to me with a drug case and what I would be doing in the first instance would be looking at the circumstances under which the drug was taken into the government’s possession. I look for such scenarios as an illegal search or if it were a motor vehicle case with an illegal stop. That is when the motor vehicle is stopped without reasonable suspicion.
Filing a Motion to Suppress
If there were some issue by which one could raise a legal objection to the government having the evidence, then we would explore and many instances file a motion to suppress the evidence. If that is granted, the evidence is excluded and if it is excluded, the great majority of the cases at that point end. So that would be one of the first lines of defense if you will.
Can the Police Establish Possession?
If all the evidence is going to be going in against the client, then we look at, in terms of other types of defenses, whose drug is it? A client of mine is sitting at a table and there’s some heroin on the table and a person there has a warrant out for him. The police come in to arrest him and see the heroin and then five men there; who do the drugs belong to?
There’s a concept of construct of possession. But they still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person they accused is in actual possession of the drug.
There’s a variety of arguments that can be raised in those types of scenarios. Then ultimately in State Court as I described earlier, there’s a wide range of possible penalties. There might very well be some degree of flexibility in the prosecutor’s point of view, given the client’s background or lack of a record to give the defendant a softer sentence.
Law Enforcement Looks Favorably on Cooperation
Lastly is in many instances, law enforcement is interested in the cooperation of the client identifying his source and assisting the government getting people higher up in the chain of command than this poor person that’s been arrested and now is in custody. So there are a number of different issues that someone would look at in terms of trying to figure out which direction to take the drug case.