A healthy amount of skepticism is necessary these days when a criminal case draws a large amount of media attention. It seems that no matter what, many people who take news reports at face value want a conviction before even hearing the evidence against a defendant. While most criminal cases do require a plea deal to achieve the best outcome for the accused, it is still important to distinguish between the "court of public opinion" and the court of law.
A 1977 New York state law makes it a violation to possess 25 grams or less of marijuana, resulting in a penalty of $100 for the first offense. However, drug charges involving possession of any amount of marijuana in public view is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.
New York City police have been criticized in the past for tricking people into buying drugs and then charging them with a crime. In fact, police officers have been specifically instructed not to use certain questionable tactics that many people say are downright illegal.
Readers in New York may be all too aware that police officers can make serious mistakes when making an arrest. And, as one Bronx teenager and his family have recently seen first-hand, unfortunately such mistakes are not limited to merely procedural matters.
Recently, four New York men were arrested after a complaint was filed that an employee was selling marijuana at a convenience store, as well as from his apartment. After a search warrant was purportedly executed at the home, the four men were arrested and charged with a number of crimes, including third-degree criminal sale of marijuana and fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.One of the men also faces charges of second-degree obstruction of governmental administration, though the details of that particular charge were not disclosed. Another man is additionally charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. Those charges range from misdemeanors to felonies.
An alleged leader of what prosecutors claim is the "most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world" has been returned to New York and now faces federal charges. The 53-year-old man is accused of importing tons of marijuana into the U.S. He has been arraigned and is awaiting his due process.
By law, every American citizen accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. A recent case involving drug charges in New York City shows just how important it is to uphold that basic tenant. A recent court case showed that two innocent people were accused of drug crimes in 2007, as a New York police officer had planted false evidence against them.
Small towns all over the United States are getting serious about drug use and distribution and law enforcement is cracking down. In mid-August, Batavia, New York saw two drugs-related arrests within a day of each other. A young man on parole was alleged to have been carrying cocaine when he was stopped by the police and was also alleged to have illegal drug-related paraphernalia in his home. Separately, a young woman is alleged to have made an attempt to sell cocaine to an undercover police officer for a second time within a six-month period. Drug charges were filed against both persons.
When you think of drug crimes, substances like marijuana or cocaine likely come to mind. But law enforcement officials and legislators have their eyes on another type of drug: prescription painkillers like oxycodone.