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Procedure important to understand when facing drug charges

Being charged with a crime is just the first step in the criminal process in Louisiana. Charges are filed when the authorities have enough evidence to arrest someone for a specific crime. Criminal procedure dictates that the arrest of an individual be lawful in that it follows all the processes and procedures as required by the Constitution and criminal statute. Once a person is arrested for criminal activity, they are entitled to a fair criminal process.

Procedurally, there is a way to prosecute crimes and this starts with an arrest, a charging document if the arrest is found to be lawful and legitimate, and later, a trial. There is a lot more involved, however. When a person is charged with a drug offense, criminal procedures must be adhered to just like in other criminal cases. Depending on whether the state or the federal government is bringing the charges will dictate the next steps in the process. Drug crimes include but are not limited to drug trafficking, possession, possession with intent to sell and manufacturing.

Defendants in drug cases have rights. When charged with a crime, the defendant has the opportunity to put forth a case questioning the prosecution's version of events that led to the charges. Supplying evidence to the court showing that you did not commit the crime charged can do this, as can creating doubt about certain elements suggested by the prosecutors.

For drug possession for example, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drug defendant had the drug in their possession while knowing it was a drug. It also must be proved that the defendant had control over the drug. If the defendant creates reasonable doubt that the drug was theirs, for example, then the prosecution's case most likely will not survive.

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