DC Drug Arrests

D.C. drug arrests are often complex and could result in serious penalties for the offender. This is why it is vital for someone to know their rights during an arrest and how legal counsel can help them avoid charges or have them mitigated. If you have been arrested for a drug offense, contact a well-trained defense lawyer right away to get started on your case.

Arrest at the Scene of the Crime

There are typically two different ways in which a person can be arrested. The most common manner in which someone gets arrested in D.C. is at the scene of an alleged crime. For example, if a person is driving in D.C. and gets pulled over for a traffic infraction, such as speeding or having a broken tail light, the police can:

  • Conduct an investigation
  • Potentially ask the driver questions
  • Ask the driver to step out of the vehicle
  • Arrest the person on the scene if the police have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed

In those situations, the police do not need to first get a warrant to conduct that arrest as long as the arrest is around the same time as an alleged crime.

Traffic Stop Arrest

Another example of how a D.C. drug arrest can take place is if the police conduct a traffic stop and claim they see cocaine lying on the passenger seat. The police can search the vehicle, seize the cocaine, and arrest the driver claiming that there was probable cause to believe that the driver was in possession of that cocaine. When a person is arrested in this scenario, they would be transported to the nearest police district station to be booked and processed (fingerprinted, photographed, and paperwork filled out). In those circumstances, the police can also speak to witnesses or try to interrogate the person that they arrested.

Arrest Warrant

If the judge finds that there is probable cause to make an arrest, they will issue a warrant. An arrest warrant is a long process and could potentially take days, weeks, or months before an arrest is made. In situations where a person is arrested on an arrest warrant, they would not be eligible to be released directly from the police station. They would first have to be brought before a Magistrate Judge to be considered for release, even in situations where a person is being charged with a misdemeanor level offense.

Arrest Process

Once a person has been arrested and the police want to interrogate them, the officer first has to read them a Miranda Warning. This means that the police have to notify the person that they have been placed under arrest and that they are not required to answer the officer’s question. The officers have to repeat that warning and have the person sign off confirming they understand their rights to remain silent, and confirm that they are waiving that right and are willing to answer questions. Once the person is arrested, booked and processed, the police make a determination whether that arrestee can be released directly from the police station with the citation to come back to court.

Felony and Misdemeanor Drug Charges

For a person who has been arrested on an allegation of a felony level charge, those arrestees are not eligible to be released directly from the police station. Arrestees in those situations would have to be taken from the police station directly to court where they would appear before a judge who would then determine whether they are eligible to be released while their case is pending. For people who are arrested on misdemeanor drug possession charges with no or minimal criminal history, they will likely be eligible to be released on citations directly from the police station. That means that they would not have to post a bond or a bail, and would simply be released from the station with a citation which notifies them of their initial court appearance date.

For more information regarding D.C. drug arrests, call an attorney.