How Does a Drug Case Work? (Guide)

Drug cases are very serious and it is critical to understand the process in order to make sound decisions and obtain the best possible outcome for your case. With so much on the line, you need an attorney like Justin Zayid who knows the system and can defend you from day one to ensure your rights are protected.

1. Arrest

A drug case usually begins when you are suspected of committing a drug crime. The police may conduct an investigation and the investigation may lead to a search. You have the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, meaning the police must have adequate basis to search you. This may require a search warrant (and sufficient probable cause) or you may make the mistake of consenting to a search (without a warrant).

If you are found to have committed a drug crime, you will be arrested and read your Miranda rights, at which time you should assert your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent at that time and wait for your attorney.

2. Contacting an Attorney

Once you are arrested (or even a suspect) it is critical to contact an attorney like Justin Zayid to ensure your rights are being protected from the moment the case begins. The police are actively looking for ways to build their case against you – and you should be building your defense against the system. The more time that has passed between the initial police contact and the time the lawyer is retained, the more likely it is that a strong defense will be lost altogether.

3. Arraignment: First Court Appearance to Enter Plea and Hear Charges Against You

Once you have been charged, the first court hearing is called an "arraignment," which is when you will be brought in front of the judge to be advised of the charges brought against you, and the potential penalties you may be facing. You will also be required to enter a plea, which will almost always be “not guilty.” However, the trickiest part of the arraignment is the bond determination.

4. Bonds

It is very important to have an attorney represent you in your bond hearings in order to ensure that both the bail amount and the conditions imposed are fair and reasonable. The monetary aspect of bond is required to ensure your attendance at future court appearances and the conditions added to the bond are intended to keep the community safe while the person awaiting trial is on bond. Drug crimes usually result in harsher, more stringent bail terms, and it is important to be represented by an attorney like Justin Zayid who can navigate the intricate issues set forth in your bond hearing.

5. Pre-Trial: Exchange evidence and negotiate

Following the arraignment, the Court will set a pre-trial, or several pre-trials. A pre-trial is a meeting between the prosecutor, the defendant, and the defendant’s counsel to exchange evidence and discuss potential evidentiary issues for trial. There may be evidence in the prosecutor’s case that was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, and your attorney can potentially move to suppress incriminating evidence.

This is also the opportunity to negotiate plea agreements and determine the best course of action for your case. There may be some plea bargaining where the crime charged would be reduced, or where other crimes charged would be dropped, all in exchange for a plea of guilty. If, however, the parties cannot agree on a dismissal, reduced charge, or some other type of plea agreement, the case will proceed to trial.

6. Trial

The trial process begins with jury selection, or what is known as Voir Dire.” If the drug crime is a misdemeanor, seven jurors are selected from the jury pool. If the drug crime is a felony, 13 jurors are selected. Once a jury is impaneled, the trial will begin. The prosecutor puts on his/her case first, because the government has the burden of proof. The standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means the prosecutor must prove every single element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are convicted, you will be sentenced soon thereafter. If you are found not guilty, you are free.