DC Cocaine Trials

If you are facing any charges related to cocaine offenses, you may be wondering what to expect. DC cocaine trials can seem daunting but the specific process will depend largely on the facts of your specific case.

A well-versed cocaine attorney can examine the facts of your case to help you understand what to expect. They can then guide you throughout the legal process while advocating for your rights and mounting a vigorous defense to the charges you are facing.

Cocaine Trials

Most cocaine cases in DC are heard in the District of Columbia Superior Court which is the general jurisdiction court in Washington, DC. Even though Washington, DC is considered to be a federal district, it has its own laws and has local law enforcement. That means not every crime prosecuted in Washington, DC is a federal crime. Even crimes that are allegedly committed on federal property such as national parks or areas around the White House or the US Capitol are frequently charged as local offenses under local law.

Some cocaine cases are heard in the DC Federal Court which is the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The decision to charge a cocaine offense in federal court rather than the DC court is made by prosecutors and depends on a few factors. The most common factor is the amount of cocaine allegedly seized. Larger amounts of cocaine are more likely to result in federal charges. However, there is no exact number and this is at the discretion of the US Attorney’s Office.

It is also important to note that, under DC rules, not every criminal charge will be heard by a jury. Only a person facing more than a maximum penalty of 180 days of jail time on any individual charge can have their case heard by a jury. When someone faces a maximum possible penalty for any of their charges of 180 days or less, their trial is heard before a judge and is called a bench trial. An attorney can further explain where a case will be heard.

Sentencing in DC

The judges who sentence people on cocaine possession cases consider arguments from prosecutors who seek a certain sentence based on their understanding of the case. The judges may also hear arguments from the individual’s defense lawyer who ensures that the judge understands their client’s life circumstances, the factors that may have contributed to their drug addiction, and any arguments for why jail time may not be appropriate.

Defense attorneys may argue for alternatives to incarceration such as suspended sentences and probationary periods that require community service or drug treatment and testing. When someone has no prior drug convictions on their record, the defense attorneys can argue for a judge to impose a sentence of probation without adjudication of guilt in a cocaine possession case. Probation without an adjudication of guilt results in a person’s conviction being removed from their record and sealed after the successful completion of a probation period decided upon by the judge. Sentencing in felony level cocaine cases could be quite different because of the higher-level penalties someone could face if convicted of cocaine distribution or possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Defense lawyers may submit character letters from friends, family members, and employers so the judge understands the full circumstances of a person’s life when deciding what sentence is appropriate.

In many circumstances, defense attorneys might argue for suspended sentences in felony level cocaine cases. The ability for someone to avoid a harsher sentence on a cocaine distribution or possession with intent to distribute case depends on their criminal history. Any possible services they can take advantage of such as job training or drug treatment are taken into account by a judge when deciding an appropriate sentence. It is important for a defense attorney to argue whenever possible why a prison sentence is unsuitable in a felony level cocaine case.

How Long is a Cocaine Trial?

The duration of a DC cocaine case depends on several factors. The most important factor that could determine the length of a cocaine case is whether someone is charged with misdemeanor simple possession of cocaine or a felony level distribution or possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Felony cases may take longer than misdemeanor cases because they could require lengthier negotiations, more intensive investigation, and additional work by defense attorneys to ensure the defendant’s rights were not violated.

A number of favorable negotiated options could result in misdemeanor charges being completely dismissed which potentially negates the need for a trial. This is because there are fewer procedural requirements in misdemeanor cases compared to felony cases. An attorney can help evaluate the factors to determine how long a DC cocaine trial may take.

Ask an Attorney About DC Cocaine Trials

How a DC cocaine trial proceeds depends largely on the facts of the specific case. Therefore, it is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney about the specific circumstances that could impact your case. Call today for a free consultation.