DC Cocaine Cases

Because of the city’s unique nature, DC cocaine cases can be difficult to navigate. Depending on where the arrest is made, different police departments may have jurisdiction over the investigation. Further, it can be difficult to understand why the government would choose to pursue felony possession with intent to distribute charges as opposed to misdemeanor possession charges.

To better understand cocaine cases in the District, it may be beneficial to reach out to a knowledgeable cocaine offenses lawyer. A well-versed attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and create a strategy to fight them.

How Does the Location of an Arrest Affect a DC Case?

The location where someone is allegedly found with cocaine does not matter for possession charges. Location of possession is not an element of the offense and is not something that prosecutors need to prove in most cases. Generally, the only time the location of an arrest makes a difference is in determining the investigating police agency and in the court where a person’s case is heard.

Washington, DC has several different police agencies and with different jurisdictions. The police department with general jurisdiction in DC is the Metropolitan Police Department. However, because there is a lot of federal land in DC, several federal police agencies also have authority. For example, when an arrest takes place near the Capitol Building, the United States Capitol Police could have jurisdiction to investigate and make an arrest for cocaine possession. When a crime allegedly occurs in a national park such as the National Mall, that might be investigated by United States Park Police. Finally, when a crime is being investigated on or around a metro station, the Metro Transit Police may have jurisdiction over that case.

It is important to note that the crimes investigated by federal police agencies are not necessarily federal crimes. For the most part, they are local crimes prosecuted at the DC Superior Court. In some situations, a cocaine charge may be prosecuted in federal court, which is the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. However, this depends less on where an alleged crime is committed and more on the amount of cocaine found, whether someone is allegedly in possession of a firearm in addition to the drugs, and the individual’s criminal history. An attorney can further explain how the location of a DC cocaine possession arrest can impact the charges.

How Different Cocaine Charges Are Treated

Cocaine possession charges are different from possession with intent to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. The most important difference is that simple possession of cocaine is a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum of 180 days of jail and fines up to $1,000. Possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute it and distribution of cocaine are both felony level offenses that carry a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Another difference between the two offenses is how the United States Attorney’s Office prosecutes them. As a result of advocacy by criminal justice reform groups, addiction specialists, and health specialists, prosecutors have more recently developed a better understanding of addiction and the need to offer treatment in many situations instead of prosecution and incarceration. In cocaine possession cases, prosecutors may be more willing to extend diversionary agreements or drug court treatment options resulting in a person having their charges completely dismissed with no conviction on their record in exchange for community service or drug testing and treatment.

Prosecutors are less likely to be lenient regarding drug distribution or possession with intent to distribute cocaine. They are more likely to seek penalties that could include felony convictions and lengthy prison sentences. Because of the aggressiveness with which prosecutors treat drug distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, defense attorneys must be zealous in developing the best defense possible. They need to have a comprehensive understanding of the following:

  • Constitutional issues that surround drug searches
  • Definitions of constructive possession and intent to distribute
  • Tactics used by investigators and prosecutors to seek convictions in these high-level cases

A well-versed attorney could help seek a more positive outcome in a DC cocaine case.

Learn More About DC Cocaine Cases

If you are facing allegations related to the possession or distribution of cocaine, an attorney can help guide you through the legal process. Each step of the way they can protect your rights while mounting a vigorous defense. To further discuss DC cocaine cases, call today for a free consultation.