Many people think the War on Drugs is over. But every year, Monroe County police officers still make hundreds of drug arrests. Most of them are for simple drug possession.
Officers respond to disturbance calls at parties or pull over a carful of people in many situations. They find drugs during a warrantless search and arrest everyone in the room or everyone in the car. Cases like these have several defenses, and a skilled drug possession attorney Rochester will know how to present these defenses in court.
Drug possession convictions are crippling for anyone. But they are especially bad for students at the University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and other area schools.
Elements of a Drug Possession Case
Many people think possession is synonymous with ownership. In the everyday world, that’s usually true. I usually possess my living room television set even if I am in the bedroom. But in Monroe County court, prosecutors must establish three elements in possession cases, as follows:
These same basic elements apply in other possession cases, such as illegal weapons.
The state must establish all three prongs beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the highest standard of proof in New York law. This showing is not easy to make, especially in the aforementioned situations.
Assume Rick is in the back seat (driver’s side) when a police officer pulls over the vehicle for speeding. The driver, Benjamin, acts suspiciously. Officers ask him for permission to search the car, and Benjamin agrees. They find a few OxyContin pills under the front passenger seat during the search. Officers then arrest everyone in the car, including Rick, for drug possession.
The charges against Rick would probably not hold up in court. Legally, the state could probably establish proximity, since both the drugs and Rick were in the passenger area. It would be very hard to establish control since there were other people between Rick and the drugs. And, unless Rick knew everyone in the car very well, knowledge might also be an issue.
Consequences for College Students
Drug cases have harsh indirect consequences for everyone. These consequences are especially acute for college students. Some of them include:
Possession of marijuana is not a deportable offense, but possession of a controlled substance is normally deportable. The government could revoke a student or visitor visa after only a brief hearing.
Grad School Denial:
Until recently, many grad schools denied admission to anyone with a criminal record as a matter of course. Then the Department of Education adopted a rule which discouraged such actions. Now, grad schools might still consider applicants with criminal records. But a black mark on your record could put you behind other students in the competitive admission process.
Student Aid Revocation:
The federal government will not only deny future assistance. It might also demand students to pay back previous aid. Many scholarships also have morality clauses, which are similar.
When the state files drug charges, colleges usually begin parallel disciplinary actions. The results vary significantly in different cases. But most people can expect some academic penalties, such as probation.
Other than academic suspension, convictions trigger these adverse actions. So, avoiding a drug conviction is paramount.
Drug Possession Attorney Rochester and Case Resolutions
Most college students have clean criminal records. As such, they are usually eligible for pretrial diversion. Prosecutors often offer diversion programs in both misdemeanors and felonies, especially if the evidence is weak.
Program requirements vary. Typically, however, defendants must perform community service, complete some self-improvement classes, and jump through a few other hoops. Afterward, prosecutors dismiss the charges.
Deferred disposition might be available as well. The defendant pleads guilty, but the judge does not find the defendant guilty. Instead, the judge simply placed the defendant on probation. If the defendant successfully completes community supervision, the judge dismisses the case.
Immigration matters work a bit differently. Deferred disposition often counts as a conviction in these situations.
Contact an Aggressive Lawyer
Don’t let a drug possession conviction derail your educational career. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester, NY criminal attorney, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi.
Once upon a time, the state rarely pursued money laundering charges. Prosecutors did not have the resources or know-how to investigate money laundering schemes properly, and the cases were difficult to prove in court. Now, things are different. Most prosecutorial agencies include a financial crimes division. And, due to changes in forfeiture laws, there is a presumption that any property connected to a crime is subject to seizure.
An assertive Rochester defense attorney evens the odds. Rochester defense attorneys understand business and financial operations laws and procedures. Additionally, they understand the way the law works. So, a reliable defense attorney can often successfully resolve money laundering charges, so you can move on with your life. Here are some common money laundering charges that require the help of a competent attorney.
A person breaks proceeds from a major drug sale or other crime into small amounts. Then, the person makes deposits into multiple accounts to bury the money and avoid reporting requirements. Almost all U.S. and foreign banks have reporting requirements. And, the IRS aggressively enforces these requirements. So, prosecutors almost always telltale signs of smurfing schemes.
Grand juries often subpoena bank and other financial records to nail the coffin shut. Then, since Rochester defense attorneys cannot appear before grand juries, the jurors only hear the prosecutor’s interpretation of that circumstantial evidence.
Frequently, it’s best to voluntarily disclose these transactions, as long as a Rochester defense attorney is at your side to protect your rights.
Investment in Cash Businesses
It looks like New York lawmakers might legalize recreational marijuana in 2020. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, most banks won’t touch marijuana dispensaries. So, for the most part, these businesses are cash-only. It’s very easy to hide money in such businesses. Other mostly-cash businesses include strip clubs, parking structures, and casinos.
Prosecutors often look for relationships with such businesses to help them establish money laundering charges. However, these transactions are difficult to trace, so these allegations often do not hold up in court.
Gambling and Rochester Defense Attorneys
If prosecutors connect illicit funds to gambling casinos, they can often claim title to all the winnings and sue the defendant for the difference. Commonly, a person pays cash for casino chips and plays for a short time. As long as the amount is not more than a few thousand dollars, most casinos do not ask questions about the money’s source. Then, the person cashes out. The casino usually gives the person a check or at least a receipt, so the person can claim the money as a gambling loss.
So, if the defendant visited a casino shortly after committing the crime, aggressive prosecutors almost always try to seize the gambling winnings. Rochester defense attorneys often use this over-aggressiveness against prosecutors. Frequently, they seize funds but there is little hard evidence of wrongdoing.
Construction companies are notorious for employing off-the-books workers and paying them in cash. Sometimes, the cash is dirty cash.
Black salary money laundering cases are quite complex because the people who were paid in dirty money usually lose that money. That means state agencies that enforce payday laws get involved. As a result, owners could lose their business licenses.
In these cases, the ripple effects are often worse than the direct effects. Your Rochester defense attorney must deal with both direct and indirect effects.
This money laundering scam is a lot like the gambling money laundering scam. People buy property, often from Craigslist or other cash-only online platforms, with dirty money.
Grand juries can usually subpoena emails and other records related to these allegations. Buying a prepaid debit card with dirty money is much the same. In these cases, the state can usually seize everything the person bought with that card.
Frequently, Rochester defense attorneys negotiate buybacks in these situations. Prosecutors drop forfeiture cases if defendants pay a portion of the estimated value.
Contact The Law Office of Frank Ciardi, Rochester Defense Attorneys
Prosecutors commonly file money laundering charges to supplement drug trafficking and other such crimes. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense attorney, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.