Am I likely to do jail time?
Jail time is unusual for most first time and possessory offenses. However, as the number of priors that one has and the quantity of drugs involved increases, your chances of being incarcerated increase correspondingly.
Why does having a local lawyer matter?
Former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neil, used to say that, "All politics is local." Likewise, most good lawyering is done locally. You do not want the best lawyer in the country for your case, on the contrary, you want the best lawyer in the county. Very often, the decision about whether or not to fight a case should be made early on in the litigation process. Prosecutors frequently offer their best deal first and punish defendants who demand litigation by asking for harsher penalties after they have been made to work. Consequently, a lawyer needs to know whether or not a given judge is likely to rule favorably on a motion to suppress evidence. If a judge is unlikely to rule on behalf of the defendant, that defendant is frequently punished more harshly than if he had not fought his case. Similarly, knowing whether a judge is a harsh or lenient sentencing judge often dictates whether a plea bargain or a blind plea is likely to yield better results for the defendant.
If arrested for DUI(D), Should I take the State's Test(s)?
Field Sobriety Tests:
Never perform roadside Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). In theory, an officer performing SFST's is trying to discover whether of not your ability to drive is impaired. In reality, that officer is building his probable cause equation in view of validating the arrest he's already decided to make. Nonetheless, an officer must have "reasonable grounds to believe" that you are under the influence while operating or in Actual Physical Control (APC) of a motor vehicle. SFST's are designed to provide those "reasonable grounds" by having you perform "tests" that are designed for you to fail. For instance, the average driver assumes that the officer is looking for basic muscle coordination on the "Walk and Turn" (WAT) test. In fact, a sober driver can fail the WAT simply by failing to precisely follow the officer's instructions even if he exhibits perfect muscle coordination. Other SFST's are similarly subjective. In short, if an officer is asking you to perform SFST's, it is already highly probable that you are about the be arrested. If you perform SFST's, the office will have pseudo-scientific observations that will sound more authoritative to a jury than his simple assertion that you appeared to be intoxicated, i.e., odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, etc. When it comes to Field Sobriety Testing, Nancy Reagan said it best: "just say 'NO'."
Likewise, if an officer asks you to perform other actions intended to bolster his belief that your are DUI(D) such as asking you stick out your tongue (raised taste buds and green tongue are indicators of cannabis consumption) or taking off your sunglasses, you are under no obligation to do so. If he insists that you do any such thing, be polite, but make clear that your cooperation/consent is a surrender to his authority, not a voluntary consent.
Unfortunately, you have No Right to Consult a Lawyer before deciding whether or not to take chemical tests such as providing specimens of your breath, blood, urine or saliva. Whether or not to take these test(s) is a major dilemma. If you already have a prior DUI or DUID, it is generally in the best interests of your criminal case to not take the state's chemical test. After all, if you have had a prior DUI during the preceding ten years, you might be giving the government all the evidence it needs to make you a convicted felon! However, refusing any or all of these tests will often result in a longer revocation of your driving privilege than if you take the test(s). Thus, the dilemma: taking the test may help preserve your license and/or shorten the length of its suspension, but it may also make your criminal case indefensible as a practical matter.
What is a DRE and should I cooperate with his examination?
DRE stands for "Drug Recognition Expert". These so-called "experts" are ordinary police officers who have been given a crash-course in how to take pulse and blood pressure and how to fill out a form that is little more than checklists and fill-in-the-blanks. You are under no obligation to consent to examination be a DRE. You should politely but firmly decline examination by a DRE. The very title of "expert" provides the state a built-in advantage at trial. After all, whom will you be able to call as your DRE to combat and criticize the government's "expert" testimony by their DRE?
Why is trial usually foolish in drug cases?
Drug cases are rarely "whodunnits." On the contrary, in the vast majority of drug cases, there will frequently be little doubt that the defendant possessed drugs. "These aren't my pants" is a risky strategy at trial. The vast majority of the time, if a drug case can be won, it can be won in motion practice before trial. Unless there is an issue about dominion and control or intent, trial is typically foolish in a drug case.
What can I do to improve my chances of a better outcome in my case?
Immediately begin getting your physiological system purged of all illicit substances and keep it so until the conclusion of your case. Drug testing and counseling can frequently persuade prosecutors. Attendance at AA or NA meetings and documentation thereof is free and often persuasive with prosecutors.
Do not consent to a search.
Never answer police questions. Utilize your right to remain silent.
Always ask to speak to your attorney immediately.