Paul Kish is an Atlanta Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer who has been handling drug and controlled substance cases in federal and state court for 36 years. While his office is in Atlanta, he handles federal criminal cases throughout the country. If you or a loved one is facing federal or state drug or controlled substances charges, please contact Paul to see if he can assist.
Some drugs or controlled substances are “illegal”, while others are “legal.” Cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are for the most part “illegal” to possess or use. On the other hand, pain medicines such as opioids are lawful so long as the patient has a prescription from a doctor who provides the prescription as part of a legitimate medical practice. Marijuana is even more complicated. This drug, which we also call a “controlled substance”, is legal to possess in some states like Colorado, Washington and California. However, the same substance is highly illegal in most other states. Furthermore, the federal government takes the position that marijuana is an illegal controlled substance and federal prosecutors regularly make cases against people for having large quantities of this drug which is legal in some parts of the country. This confusing situation means that anyone facing a criminal prosecution for a drug or controlled substance case needs an attorney who is well-versed in the current legal situation regarding these substances.
A common feature in many drug prosecutions is the use of a “wiretap” which is often accompanied by search warrants. In the modern world, we all know how the government and others regularly intercepts various forms of electronic communications. However, to be used in court, a wiretap needs to comply with the stringent standards of what we attorneys refer to as “Title III”. Basically, the investigators and agents need to get a lengthy and complicated Order from a federal judge that lets them listen in on a “target’s” phones. This listening can include text messages and other methods of communication. The Order generally lasts for 30 days but can be renewed. Using what they hear, agents then identify various other people who are suspected of being involved with the target. Handling a drug case with a wiretap requires an attorney who knows the ways to challenge a Title III wiretap.
Many drug cases also involve search warrants. Again, the agents go to a federal judge for permission to search a certain location. The Judge issues a “search warrant.” Our Constitution includes some very strong protections to prevent impermissible searches. An agent’s application, the warrant itself, and the execution of that warrant must all comply with the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as other legal provisions that govern their actions. Challenging a search warrant with a Motion to Suppress is often one of the best ways to defend against a drug or controlled substance case.
Most federal drug cases involve claims of a “conspiracy.” In essence, a conspiracy is merely an agreement to commit another crime. Therefore, in a federal drug conspiracy case, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the person handled drugs, the money or anything at all, so long as there is evidence that there was an agreement among two or more people to import or distribute drugs or controlled substances. However, many of the federal drug cases that Paul has won involve situations where he demonstrated that his client either did not know about the conspiracy, or even if he did, he did not join up with the illegal agreement.
“Entrapment” is sometimes used to defend against a federal drug case. Basically, the Defendant says that government agents trapped him or her into doing a drug deal. There are two basic elements in an entrapment defense. First, the person needs to show that he or she was not “predisposed” to commit a crime. A person who previously used or was otherwise involved with people who were drug dealers will have a more difficult time establishing he or she was not predisposed. Then, if the person was not predisposed, the focus turns to whether it was the government agents who put the idea of committing the crime into the Defendant’s head.
Drug cases are especially scary because of the horrific penalties that are sometimes used. Paul has handled such cases for 36 years and has seen the foolish use of excessive mandatory penalty schemes. These mandatory minimum penalties also drive the harsh Federal Sentencing Guidelines. A lawyer handling these troubling cases needs to know how to both defend and potentially get a lower sentence for his or her client.