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Are police keeping people in jail too long while awaiting trial?

Criminal sentencing and mandatory minimums have received massive attention from the media in recent years. From the atrocities being committed in the Philippines to the vacating of sentences issued for minor drug offenses in the United States, the way drug offenses are being viewed across the globe is rapidly changing. Every case is different and some cases are tragic.

On a case-by-case basis, some people do sit in jail a long time

For example, a 49-year-old man from New Orleans was arrested in 2015 for possession of cocaine and a crack pipe. Prior to this arrest, this individual had been a regular in the revolving door of prison on various minor drug sentences. What the court refused to consider was how this man was homeless and could not move without experiencing excruciating pain. Homeless, unemployed, and broke, he had no way of seeing anyone for help with the chronic pain he was feeling due to an autoimmune disease. He tried to handle his pain the only way he knew how. He turned to illegal drugs.

After he was arrested, he languished in jail for months while awaiting trial. He was broke and had no way to pay for the $7,500 bail. During these months, his health predictably deteriorated at breakneck speed. During one of his courtroom appearances, he even passed out. He decided to plead guilty to all charges because he faced a minimum of two decades in prison if he were to lose at trial. His first thought after pleading guilty was that he could die in prison.

It's a common scenario

Unfortunately, this story is all too common in the United States despite drug sentences being targeted for reform. Nobody would argue that illegal drugs aren't still  problem in this country. In fact, every 25 seconds someone is arrested on drug charges. What people don't mention is that the majority of these charges are for minor drug possession charges. Only a minority are for more serious charges such as drug dealing or running something resembling a cartel.

Furthermore, minor drug possession is the most common reason for arrest in the United States. Police arrest over 1.25 million individuals for drug possession annually. While this initial approach was meant to toughen laws related to illegal drugs and stamp out an epidemic, it hasn't helped. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are behind bars on minor drug possession charges. This represents a major burden on an overworked prison system, millions of dollars in legal costs, and ultimately incongruous sentences for relatively minor crimes.

The stigma of a drug conviction can last forever

This doesn't even begin to address the stigma these individuals face once they are released. With a criminal record, especially one involving prison time, it is almost impossible for these people to find meaningful work. Safe housing options will turn these individuals down on housing applications, fearing that drugs will wind up coursing through the development. With a record, never again will law enforcement grant these people the benefit of the doubt. Families are broken up and parents lose custody of their children.

Do everything you can to keep a drug conviction off your record

These are all drastic ramifications for minor offenses that judicial reform has made it possible for individuals to avoid if they hire an experienced lawyer. First of all, a lawyer is going to come armed with the latest information on laws that pertain to their case. With the massive focus on drug crime reform, the laws change rapidly. The lawyer can tailor any defense around the latest legal facts. Furthermore, a lawyer with experience handling drug crime cases is best equippped to protect that person's freedom. The attorney can point to other cases involving minor drugs possession charges and argue that this case should be handled the same way.

Ultimately, a conviction on minor drug possession can still lead to jail time. On the other hand, an experienced drug crime attorney can wind up pleading the case down to a much less serious offense and avoid jail time. This allows the individual a second chance.

Everyone has made at least one bad decision at some point in their life. Rely on a drug crimes attorney with a long track record of successful cases to demonstrate this to a judge and jury. People deserve a second chance. For people arrested on drug possession charges in Charlotte, North Carolina, hire a drug crimes attorney today.

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