Case Studies: Drug Charges

Veterinary Assistant Defeats Drug Possession with Intent to Deliver Charge

A veterinarian's assistant preparing for veterinary school retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after her arrest on a charge of drug possession with intent to deliver. Our client had several times run packages of what she believed to be veterinary medications to a farm location. The veterinarian for whom she worked had initially explained what the medications were for but then had just sent the assistant on the deliveries. On the last delivery, police had been waiting at the farm to arrest the assistant as part of a drug investigation that had already led to the arrest of the farm manager and would result in the arrest of the veterinarian. Prosecutors alleged that the drugs were controlled substances that the veterinarian and farm manager had been trafficking to drug dealers and users. They further alleged that the assistant had known of the trafficking and willingly participated for financial or other benefits. Our investigation confirmed our client's innocence, although it also confirmed that the circumstances could give the prosecution inferences that our client knew and intended participation. We accordingly kept communications open with the prosecutor regarding our client's innocence and her willingness to cooperate with any further police investigation. Our client's goal, beyond defeating the charge, was to ensure a clear criminal record to be able to enter veterinary school. The prosecutor soon came back with an offer to dismiss the charge against our client for her cooperation. We documented the cooperation agreement and assisted our client through the interview process.

Real Estate Developer Avoids Conviction on Drug Possession Charges Relating to a Traffic Stop

A prominent real estate developer retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after the developer's arrest on drug possession charges. Police had found black-market oxycodone in our client's briefcase after police had stopped our client on moving violations and seen what they claimed they suspected to be drug paraphernalia on top of the briefcase. Our client admitted that he had grown addicted to oxycodone after having been prescribed medication for a sports injury. After the arraignment and preliminary hearing, we moved to suppress the evidence based on a challenge to the police claim that they saw what appeared to be drug paraphernalia. Nothing in the vehicle had that appearance, and the police could not articulate what they saw or how it appeared to suggest drug paraphernalia. We further argued that suspected contraband or illegal items on top of a briefcase would not warrant a search of a briefcase. The court granted our motion, suppressing the evidence. When the prosecution acknowledged that they had no other evidence, the court dismissed the charges. The press did not pick up the case, and the judge ordered the closed case sealed to protect our client's privacy. Our focus on the constitutional defense of police violation of our client's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights proved to be the winning strategy.

University Student Beats Drug Possession Charges With ARD Program Diversion

The parents of a freshman student at a Pennsylvania public university retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team to defend their student against drug possession charges. The charges alleged that the police had stopped a vehicle in which our client was riding with several other students. When the police spotted an open intoxicant and plastic baggies in the vehicle, they ordered the students out of the vehicle and performed pat-down searches for weapons, drugs, or drug paraphernalia. The pat down led to their search of our client, on whom they found two amphetamine pills. Pat-down searches of other vehicle occupants led to the discovery of other drugs and paraphernalia. Prosecutors charged the other students with more-serious crimes but only charged our client with misdemeanor drug possession. Our client and his parents agreed on a strategic approach of seeking an alternative disposition of the drug possession charge to ensure that our client could continue and complete his education to graduate with a clean criminal record. We negotiated with the prosecution to support Accelerated Rehabilitative Diversion (ARD) of the drug charge, ensuring the charge's dismissal as soon as our client completed the program's conditions. The parents wanted their student to go through the program's education and other requirements to ensure that he learned from the arrest. While the ARD Program is not for every criminal defendant, it can serve some defendants well, as it did in this case.

Homeowner Successfully Defends Drug Manufacturing Charges

An urban homeowner retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after police arrested her on charges of the unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance. The homeowner had rented her garage behind her central-city residence to a businessman who said he needed to store medical equipment in the garage. The businessman claimed to lease medical equipment to clinics, hospitals, and physician's offices. Although the businessman frequently came and went from the garage and often worked in the garage at night, appearing to inspect, adjust, clean, and test the medical equipment, the homeowner did not realize that the man was manufacturing illegal drugs in the garage for distribution and sale to drug abusers. The police had simultaneously arrested the man and several others at other locations. Prosecutors charged those others with the same drug manufacturing crime. Our Criminal Defense Team focused on our client's elderly age, limited physical capabilities, and lack of knowledge about illegal drug manufacturing and sale. We also gathered financial records and other evidence showing that our client received nothing more or less than fair market value for her garage's rental. The man to whom she rented had never offered her any other inducement than the modest rent. With our client's agreement, we offered our client's cooperation and testimony against the man as to the days, times, and general nature of his frequent activities in the garage in exchange for the dismissal of the charges. The prosecution accepted the offer, although detectives never interviewed our client, and the prosecutor did not call her for testimony against the man or any other defendant.

Proprietor Retains License by Avoiding Felony Marijuana Conviction

The proprietor of a thriving pest-control business retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after arrest and charge for sale, delivery, or distribution of marijuana of 1,000 pounds or less. The charge was a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A conviction could further disqualify our client from the license he needed to maintain his thriving business. Police discovered a bag of marijuana when it fell from our client's pocket at an accident scene involving our client's service van. Our client admitted to the police at the scene that he smoked marijuana for pain relief from the heavy backpack pest-control equipment he carried daily. Our client further admitted to police that he kept just enough on hand to share with customers who had similar needs for pain relief. Our investigation confirmed that our client never sold any marijuana for any money or other consideration. Our client also did not offer marijuana except when a pest-control customer made specific complaints of back pain. We obtained the prosecution's confirmation of the weight of the small amount of marijuana in the recovered bag. Our Criminal Defense Team determined that the evidence supported, at most, a misdemeanor charge for the distribution of thirty grams or less of marijuana without monetary exchange. Our client had no concern over sustaining a conviction but had to retain his professional license. After we confirmed with licensing officials that the misdemeanor plea would not affect his license, we negotiated a plea agreement reducing the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Counselor Avoids Marijuana Possession Conviction on Constitutional Violation

A mental-health counselor retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest outside a Philadelphia restaurant on a marijuana possession charge. Police claimed to have spotted drug paraphernalia in our client's unlocked vehicle parked along the curb. They had opened the vehicle's unlocked door, lifted our client's leather backpack from the passenger-side floor, and searched the backpack, discovering a rolled marijuana cigarette. They waited for our client to return from the restaurant to his vehicle, where they arrested him and removed him to the station for booking. Our client acknowledged to us that he had acquired the marijuana cigarette from a friend in the suburbs who grew small amounts to share with friends for medical purposes only. Our client, who had severe migraine headaches that only marijuana relieved, believed that his possession of single cigarettes for medical purposes only would help him avoid any charge if discovered. Our Criminal Defense Team moved to suppress the evidence based on the police account of entering and searching our client's vehicle without probable cause, in violation of our client's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Our lead defense attorney argued that police had not discovered any drug paraphernalia or items that looked like drug paraphernalia, and so had no articulable suspicion or probable cause to enter the vehicle. They further had no cause to lift and search our client's closed leather bag. The court granted our motion, suppressing the evidence upon which the prosecution abandoned the charge. Our client avoided professional discipline related to his mental health counselor license.

College Student Avoids Conviction on Marijuana Paraphernalia Charge

The parents of a college student in a pre-professional program at a Philadelphia area private college retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after campus police arrested our client for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Our client admitted that friends had given him some roach clips, cigarette papers, and a cone-shaped hash pipe. Our client was intrigued with the items and enjoyed the friendship; his interest in the items fostered, but he had not purchased, possessed, or used any marijuana. Our investigator obtained witness statements confirming that account. We also obtained information and documentation showing our client's good academic record and record of student leadership and service. Our lead defense attorney's good professional relationship with the local prosecutor facilitated negotiations for pre-trial diversion of the paraphernalia charges. The court approved the diversion, placing our client on probation with conditions. Our client easily met those conditions, which his parents encouraged to ensure that their student did not become a marijuana user. When our client had completed the conditions, we helped our client document that completion to obtain the court's dismissal of the charge. Our client obtained his goal of maintaining a clear criminal record so as not to affect his education and promising future.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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