Receiving a criminal charge comes with many consequences. Criminal penalties include fines, jail time, community service, and a permanent record. The key to having charges dropped or downgraded is working with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A successful attorney will look at the details of your case and pick out the facts and evidence that lead to a defense to use in court. While each case is unique, there are some common criminal defenses. Contact an attorney ASAP after an arrest so they can formulate a defense for your case.
Challenge DUI Tests
If an officer pulls you over because they suspect you are under the influence, they will conduct a field sobriety test. The test includes a heel-to-toe walk and turn, one-leg-stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus. This lets the officer observe your balance to determine whether you are under the influence. If the officer believes you failed the test, they can arrest you for DUI.
However, if you work with an experienced DUI attorney, they can challenge the results of the sobriety test in court and potentially have charges dropped or downgraded. For example, maybe the reason you were off-balance is due to a medical condition and not from intoxication. Another defense is that the officer had no probable cause for the arrest. Through these defenses, the goal is to avoid penalties like an ignition interlock device, jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Self-protection is a common defense in court during simple and aggravated assault cases. If you committed an act of assault against another person, there might be a very good reason for that. In domestic violence cases, the threats of abuse can be dire and can cause someone to act out of self-defense. Also, this act of defense can be to protect a child. During the assault court case, your attorney will use evidence to prove that you committed the act of assault in self-protection or protection of another.
Another defense used in assault cases is that the argument was mutual. For example, two people get in a fight, and both commit acts of assault. If your attorney proves this, charges can be dropped to a petty disorderly person’s offense, which comes with fewer penalties than a criminal charge and will not be on your permanent record.
Not Your Drugs or Paraphernalia
Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia are considered criminal acts. Possession of drugs means illegal controlled dangerous substances like heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. Drug paraphernalia is anything used to ingest or inject an illegal drug, including syringes, pipes, cocaine bags, aerosol cans, and more. If you possess an illegal drug or associated paraphernalia, you can face charges.
A frequent issue with this charge is that the drugs/paraphernalia belong to someone else. For example, maybe the bag of cocaine seen on the backseat of your car during a routine traffic stop belongs to your roommate. Or perhaps you share a bag with your sister, and she left her syringes in it, which were found during a bag check at an event. In either situation, the items are not yours, and thus you should not be criminally charged. Your lawyer will work with you to find the evidence you need to prove the illegal items belonged to someone else.
Challenge Shoplifting Witnesses or Shoplifter’s Intent
When it comes to shoplifting, there are two defenses that can be highly successful in getting charges dropped. The first is challenging the shoplifting witness. Sometimes this might be an actual person; other times, it might be security video footage. When the witness is a person such as a store employee or store manager, the attorney works to establish doubt that they identified the correct person as the shoplifter.
If the store is using video footage, it can be challenging to correctly identify a person. This is due to body position, black and white video, and grainy picture quality. Another defense is to challenge the intent of the shoplifter. For example, maybe they simply accidentally walked out of the store carrying an item and forgot to pay. Or maybe they experienced a medical or family emergency and left the store in a rush without paying for an item.
Involuntary Intoxication or Coercion
Involuntary intoxication or coercion is a defense in cases where a minor is under the influence of alcohol. Potentially, the intoxication was involuntary and forced upon them by another person. This could be the case where a minor is slipped a “date rape” drug that causes them to black out and have no control over their actions. It can also be the case that a minor feels threatened and forced to drink alcohol to avoid dangerous consequences, such as during a fraternity hazing event.
Medical defenses can come to play in DUI cases or other under the influence cases. As mentioned above, a defendant can fail a sobriety test due to a medical condition that makes them off-balance. In addition, someone may appear under the influence. However, it could be a legal drug their doctor prescribed. For example, someone who accidentally combines their daily medication with a sleeping pill could appear intoxicated.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Working with a criminal defense attorney is the best way to successfully have criminal charges dropped or downgraded in court.
For more information about criminal charges and the court hearing process, reach out to Leon Matchin. Contact Leon by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected]. He will set up a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case and go over your options.