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S. Huband, Esq.
S. Huband, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1141
Experience:  Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
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Son at college in an off campus house with 7 other boys...

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Son at college in an off campus house with 7 other boys... Police show up and knock on door... Boys don't answer. Police come back with warrant and come inside. Search house and find no drugs but do find drug paraphernalia. One boy (not my son) claims the items as belonging to him. Police arrest all 8 boys and take them to jail…they spend the night and are released the next morning……..What are my options as far as having charges (if any) dropped? He is majoring in a field that would frown on any type of drug/alcohol charges on his permanent record. Help
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for the opportunity to assist you.

Q) What are my options as far as having charges (if any) dropped?

The answer depends on a lot of different factors, but I'll give you an overview. Primarily, I wonder how strong a case the police have.

It appears your son has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. That's a misdemeanor if convicted. Drug paraphernalia in OK includes smoking or ingestion devices, rolling papers, hypodermic needles, etc.

HOWEVER, many if not most all those items I listed above are LEGAL to possess. So, to be "drug paraphernalia", there has to be some circumstance present that indicates the item is being used as drug paraphernalia.

Say I want to smoke a pipe, just like my uncle used to. A pipe COULD be used to smoke marijuana, too. So, if I had a pipe, and a lighter, and marijuana nearby, my pipe suddenly looks like drug paraphernalia. Otherwise, if I just use the pipe for smoking tobacco, it's not drug paraphernalia. Same goes for rolling papers, hypodermic needles, etc. A diabetic might use a needle to inject insulin, but that's for a legitimate medical purpose, so it's not "drug paraphernalia." You get the picture.

Second, even if the item or items ARE considered drug paraphernalia, who says that your son possessed them? Were they found near him? Did he make statements acknowledging that he knew the items were nearby? Did he even know what they were? I guarantee you that a lot of people don't know what a bong is or looks like. Did your son say anything about his knowledge of the presence of or the nature and character of the items to the cops? The less he said, the better.

As an aside, it is possible that this drug paraphernalia charge (assuming I'm right about what your son's current charge is) could turn into a simple possession charge. I've had people who had a "bong" with marijuana residue get charged with possessing marijuana, or a crack stem with cocaine residue get charged with possession of cocaine, etc. Just a heads up on this issue...

Third, I wonder about the search warrant. What were they searching for? Why did they have probable cause to get the warrant in the first place? It's difficult, but not impossible, to attack a search warrant. Maybe this is an option.

Nonetheless, if your son were charged with possessing a controlled substance, and he's never been convicted of a similar charge before, he could request a pre-trial diversion. He would consider this alternative if the attorney he uses believes the case against him is relatively strong and that he should not take the risk of trial.

Pre-trial diversion is a program that is often used for first time offenders to avoid a conviction. A person does community service, stays out of trouble, takes a drug class or classes, pays court costs, etc. At the end of the diversion period, the charge is dismissed and your son would be eligible for an expungement. An expungement is the removal of a person's criminal arrest and prosecution record from public view, including future employers etc.

There could be other collateral consequences to a drug charge, including driver's license suspension. Another issue that could come up is continued eligibility for federal student loan money, or eligibility for a scholarship from the school, etc.

So, as you can see, there are some issues a creative attorney in your area can work with. There are also serious and long-lasting consequences if your son doesn't handle the situation properly and appreciate how serious the situation could be.

Thus, I hope you or your son have hired a criminal defense attorney. Your son needs advice about the particulars of what I discussed above and more ASAP. If you do not know someone in the area who you trust to hire, try the Oklahoma State Bar attorney referral service. They may be able to help.

I hope my response has been helpful. If you have follow-up questions or concerns on this topic, please ask. Otherwise, please rate my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work. Doing so will NOT cost you any additional fee.

Take care,
Shuband
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

So its possible (assuming he said nothing / was not his house / wrong place wrong time) that it could be dropped outright with the assist of a good lawyer?

Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thanks for the update.

Q) So it's possible (assuming he said nothing / was not his house / wrong place wrong time) that it could be dropped outright with the assist of a good lawyer?

Yes, it's very possible. The prosecutor could simply look at the case on his own and say, "I'm dropping the charges because there's not enough evidence against (your son's name here) in order to convict."

Your son's lawyer could convince the prosecutor to drop the charge, especially since another person claimed the drug paraphernalia as their own. Besides, your son's got a bright future, he has a scholarship, he's got straight A's, he's never been in trouble before, etc. Whatever great things you and your son can come up with as a rationale for the prosecutor to see things your way will help.

Finally, your son could go to trial and be found not guilty. That's the best way of all to get charges "dropped" since the charge is over and done with and never coming back again. This is the riskiest route, however, since a trial COULD also result in your son being convicted.

If you have follow-up questions or concerns on this topic, please ask. Otherwise, please rate my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work. Doing so will NOT cost you any additional fee.

Take care,
Shuband
S. Huband, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1141
Experience: Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
S. Huband, Esq. and 9 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Hello again,

I was notified that you rated the answer I gave positively, and I am very pleased and gratified that I was able to help you. I sincerely hope the matter(s) we discussed turn out well for you.

Please ask for me in the future if you have additional questions or concerns. Thank you very much for the opportunity to assist you.

Take care,
Shuband

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