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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26818
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I am a 45 year old male. In May, 2008, I was unaware of my

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I am a 45 year old male. In May, 2008, I was unaware of my legal rights and plead guilty to an unlawful possession charge for a controlled substance. The facts of this matter are.
1. I was never searched nor was any controlled substance found on my possession nor on any of my property.
2. I had no prior warning nor knowledge of this offense.
3. I was pulled over and arrested while driving my automobile. The arresting police officer informed me that I was under arrest for the illegal possession of a controlled substance. Of note, I had committed no traffic violation nor was I issued a traffic citation.
4. I was handcuffed and taken to the county detention center where a $1500.00 bail was paid and I was released.
5. Though no controlled substance was found nor was I searched, I was prescribed anxiety treatment by my family physician. My family doctor prescribed me Xanax, 1mg to be taken 2 times per day as needed for anxiety. He handed me a prescription for #60 Xanax tablets, which I filled at a local pharmacy. I plead guilty to the possession of one, 1mg Xanax tablets.
6. Even though my physician admitted to prescribing the Xanax to me and the prescription was filled at a local pharmacy, the doctor and the pharmacist averred that I had obtained the single Xanax by illegal means. At that time I was unaware of my legal rights and was fearful because I was told that I could spend years in prison if I didn't plead guilty. Therefore, I plead guilty and went through a court referral program and paid a fine of $1000.00 plus victim compensation fees.
7. Currently, I am the owner and editor in chief of a well circulated and highly read newspaper. The arrest was my 1st offense of any kind, and I have not been arrested nor charged since that date, which was, May, 2008.
8. It is evident to me now that I had committed no crime, but such arrests and convictions are rife in this small community, and it is public knowledge that these generate significant revenue for this county. I am referring to the fees collected by the court fines for such cases and the court referred treatment program. This is most commonly referred to as a racket.
What procedures and/or remedies are available to me, outside of a governor's pardon to have my charge dismissed or my 2008 guilty plea withdrawn? This occurred in Lauderdale county, Alabama. If relevant, it is my understanding that Alabama is one of two states that has double jeopardy, (the other is Arizona.)
I very much appreciate your pensive insight and legal expertise in this matter. Thank you in advance for your help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello, My name is Zoey and I will be assisting you. I am researching the law and will respond again shortly.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
I don't know whether you had representation for your case or not, but you were informed correctly. The charges against you were potentially serious enough so that you would be risking years of prison if you fought that case and lost. Under similar circumstances and given a guaranteed opportunity to avoid jail time, the overwhelming number of criminal defendants would do exactly as you did, which is to take a plea. This is why plea bargaining exists in this country to begin with, to help reduce the size of a prosecutor's caseload by giving defendants a more favorable way out than a trial might be. By doing so, however, you voluntarily waived your rights to confront the evidence against you and have your lawyer question the officers who stopped you and to challenge the stop and all that flowed from it as an unlawful arrest. Back then, you would have been able to take immediate action if you wanted to try to get your plea back and if it failed you could have appealed your conviction on that and on other grounds. Thirteen years later, unfortunately, that's denied to you and you don't meet the criteria to do that at this time. That means there are only three avenues for possible relief: The first would be to try to get your offense expunged from your record. Unfortunately, however, even though Alabama has recently liberalized its expungement policies, it still does not expunge convictions. So that avenue is closed to you right now.. The second would be to apply for a pardon. Pardons don't erase your record. They forgive it. Your offense would show as pardoned which would be proof that the state's highest official believes that you have turned your life around. Pardons are free and don't require a lawyer. Getting one is a longshot, but if you've been out of trouble for 13 years, you'd be a better candidate for one than many of the applicants, and your conviction is non-violent. They are free to apply for, and they do not require a lawyer. You have nothing to lose by applying. Alabama explains their pardon process here. The last option would require a lawyer and could be expensive, especially as it is a longshot. You would retain counsel to reopen your old case on a motion to get it dismissed in the interest of justice. A judge has the power to dismiss a case under principles of equity even when the law does not specifically provide for a dismissal. They use these powers very sparingly and generally only to prevent an injustice. Here, however, what you went through and what you have gone on to accomplish for yourself, a judge might find your situation compelling enough to grant the dismissal.You would need to talk to a local criminal lawyer to see whether a motion of this sort is a viable possibility for you. The DA would weigh in on this, and they would be very likely to object. So this is not something you can do without a lawyer. If your judge did grant the dismissal however, you should then be eligible to expunge it from your record.

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