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Arrest in big NC cocaine seizure yields some instructive points

Seizure and arrest.

Truly, that is about all that can be safely ascertained from perusal of a recent article and its rather dramatic headline underscoring a huge amount of cocaine and cash and featuring the term "drug bust."

To wit: North Carolina criminal law authorities say that they recently conducted a search and seized 83 kilos of cocaine from a home near Graham, the county seat of Almance County. Following the drug find, they arrested one individual and carted him off to jail.

Many people might draw quick conclusions from the headline and sparsely detailed narrative that accompanies it.

They shouldn't.

And here's why.

For starters, no mention is made of what led authorities to the home in the first place. Second, no reference is made to how law enforcement secured a warrant authorizing the search. Third, readers can glean no relevant information at all about the arrested individual from the media story.

In other words, and absent considerably more information, there is no logical reason why any person should reasonably presume much -- if anything -- about the story at all, especially regarding the arrested person's guilt on any criminal charge.

Maybe he didn't do anything wrong. Maybe they got the wrong guy. Perhaps the authorities lacked probable cause and/or the aforementioned warrant that would even justify their presence at the home.

Any number of factors might emerge as material in the case, and it is flatly impossible to make a firm determination regarding the matter until they do and are fully evaluated. The newspaper account is silent on all but the most generic details.

An experienced criminal defense attorney necessarily regards police accounts and prosecutors' stories with the requisite cynicism required to provide a strong, knowledgeable and aggressive defense. At the core, that means examining every aspect of a criminal allegation and arrest and insisting that all alleged incriminating evidence be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

For example, there may not have been legally sufficient probable cause for the warrant or the warrant was not executed properly, either of which could result in suppression of evidence and dismissal of the case.  Or, perhaps, the hapless defendant was just visiting the premises.  Even if he lived there, if it could be shown that he lived in another part of the residence with no connection to the area where the cocaine was found, the case against him could be dismissed.  

That is the strategy we routinely employ at the Law Office of Christopher Connelly in Charlotte on behalf of North Carolina clients who reach out to the firm for professional advocacy. We invite readers to visit our website for relevant information on drug trafficking charges and defense and the work we do to mitigate adverse criminal consequences for our clients.

We welcome your questions and feedback.

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