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and/or remedies are available to me, outside of a governor's pardon to have my charge dismissed or my 2008 guilty plea withdrawn?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.