Archive for July, 2013

Strategies in Defending against Drug Possession Charges in Kansas

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Being arrested in Kansas for the possession of illegal drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, or other controlled substances can have serious and sometimes life-long consequences, including a felony conviction, long-term imprisonment, a permanent criminal record, and substantial monetary fines and penalties.  However, it is important to keep in mind that an arrest does not always result in a conviction.  With this in mind, there are a number of effective defense strategies, provided in more detail below, that can be implemented by a seasoned Kansas criminal defense attorney to help you safeguard your legal rights.

Keep in mind that everything spanning from the individual facts of your case to how the police conducted themselves during your arrest may impact (either positively or negatively) whether you are ultimately convicted or not.  However, there is a key distinction that can drastically affect the scope of defenses that may apply to your case.  Specifically, this distinction involves whether the prosecutor is building his or her case upon the actual or mere constructive possession of drugs.

Actual possession refers to when a person is arrested with drugs are found on their person, whether in their pockets, hands, or other bodily area.  Conversely, constructive possession refers to a situation in which an individual does not have drugs on their person yet, drugs are found in their vicinity, such as in their trunk or other places where these types of substances can be stored.  In other words, when drugs are found in these areas, it implies that they had the ability to exercise control over them.

With the above in mind, one of the most effective defenses to a constructive possession case is a lack of knowledge.  To illustrate, a prosecutor must prove that you knew that the drugs were present at the time they were uncovered by police (note that the prosecutor, in making his or her case, does not have to prove ownership of drugs to be successful in this regard).  This is not necessarily the easiest thing to do, and as a result, is a prime place to focus and develop your defense strategies.  Yet, if you were arrested for the actual possession of drugs, a lack of knowledge may not necessarily suffice as your strongest defense tactic.  Notwithstanding, there are other ways in which to attack an actual possession case.

In terms of defenses to actual possession, there are quite a few.  Specifically, if evidence in your case was improperly procured, and, this unlawful seizure led to your arrest, you could assert that it constitutes a Fourth Amendment violation of your rights.   Nowadays, most people are aware that evidence cannot be submitted to the court for the jury’s consideration in the event that it was improperly obtained (i.e. without a warrant).   An additional defense that can be raised to an actual possession case is that the substances found on your person are not “controlled”.  When this defense is asserted, the prosecutor must then prove that the “drugs” are in fact, illegally controlled substances, thereby warranting a potential conviction.  Moreover, defenses related to missing evidence or improperly handled evidence (by police during their investigation) may also provide effective defenses to your actual possession case.  Lastly, if you were unfortunately forced to transport or hold onto someone’s drugs at their forceful command, it may serve as an effective defense (for example, if you were held at gunpoint and ordered to transport drugs).

In light of the above, it is important to consider that each defense strategy defends upon the specific facts underlying a person’s case.  As such, if you are facing drug possession charges, you should contact a qualified Kansas criminal defense attorney immediately.  At the Whitman Law Offices, our legal professionals have successfully represented thousands of people facing all type of criminal charges in Kansas, no matter how challenging or complex.  Our attorneys will take the time necessary to review your case and advise you of the scope of your legal options.  We invite you to call us at (785) 843-9460 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Facing DUI Charges in Kansas

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Facing a potential DUI conviction in Kansas is extremely serious and as such, should not be taken lightly.  Specifically, a DUI can have severe consequences such as a permanent criminal record, difficulty finding a job, and other life altering repercussions.  If you have been charged with a DUI, it is crucial to know the full scope of your rights and responsibilities.  Otherwise stated, understanding the basics about your charges can greatly affect the outcome of your case.  Moreover, it may also help prevent you from being arrested should be pulled over under the suspicion of driving while impaired. Accordingly, the following are some of the most important things you should know about DUI charges in Kansas.

1. What is a DUI?

A DUI, known as driving under the influence, is a criminal charge that is imposed upon a driver who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more.  In other words, if you take a Breathalyzer test and your BAC is over the legal limit, you will immediately be placed under arrest and charged with a DUI in Kansas.

2. Under Kansas law, can I choose which blood alcohol chemical test I wish to take?

Specifically, every driver who operates a vehicle in the state of Kansas is legally considered to have provided his or her consent to have a breath, blood, or urine test to determine blood alcohol or drug content levels. That is known as Kansas’ “Implied Consent” law.  As such, a police officer has the right to request that you take a blood, urine or Breathalyzer test.  A person who refuses to submit to any of these tests can, pursuant to Kansas’s Implied Consent Law, be charged with a “refusal”, which can lead to the suspension of one’s license, and other serious legal consequences.

3.     If I am convicted, what are the penalties for driving under the influence in Kansas?

In Kansas, the severity of the punishment depends upon several factors, including whether you are a “repeat offender”, and the amount of time between your current charges and your last DUI conviction.  Specifically, a first time DUI conviction in Kansas is considered to be a “Class B misdemeanor” and may result in a $1,000 fine, 100 hours of public service, and up to 6 months in jail.  If you have been convicted of multiple DUI offenses in Kansas, you could end up facing a year or more of prison time, several thousands of dollars in fines, and possibly, the permanent suspension of your driver’s license.

4. Do I have a defense?

While this depends upon the facts of your case, the answer is probably yes.  There are several defenses that can be raised when challenging DUI charges.  Perhaps your field sobriety test was improperly conducted or the results of your Breathalyzer test are inaccurate.  Only a seasoned Kansas DUI attorney can fight for your legal rights and help you mount the strongest defense on your behalf.

5.     Do I need an attorney to represent me?

Although you are not legally obligated in the State of Kansas to hire an attorney, it is highly recommended that you do so.  An experienced  DUI defense attorney in Kansas may be able to mitigate the severity of your punishment or even have your case dismissed.  An attorney will also be able to help protect your legal interests and make sure that your constitutional rights are being upheld throughout the entire process.

If you are facing DUI or other serious charges in Kanas, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you.   For more than 35 years, the attorneys at the Whitman Law Offices have successfully represented thousands of people located throughout Lawrence and northeast Kansas facing all type of criminal matters – no matter how challenging or complex.  Our attorneys will take the time necessary to review your case and advise you of the scope of your legal options.  We will also visit you in jail should you have been arrested.  For more information, we invite you to call us at (785) 843-9460 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

Top 5 Myths Associated with Facing DUI Charges in Kansas

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Undoubtedly, facing DUI charges in Kansas is certainly no laughing matter, and, without effective representation, can result in serious and sometimes irreversible legal consequences.  While it is certainly true that a DUI is something that should never be ignored, there are myths associated with these types of cases that can influence those accused to think that they are both defenseless and without hope.  Moreover, when people choose to believe these myths, it may also lead them to make legal mistakes in their case that can cost them a significant amount of money and also, their freedom.  Whether you were charged with a DUI for the first time or are deemed a repeat-offender, a highly seasoned Kansas criminal defense attorney can help mitigate, if not completely prevent, many of the severe repercussions associated with Kanas DUI charges.  Moreover, they can also dispel the many harmful myths associated with DUI cases, which include the following:

  • I can only be charged with a DUI due to impairment from illegal drugs and/or alcohol.

Pursuant to Kansas law, a person can be charged and ultimately convicted of driving to the point of impairment while taking prescription medication as well as over the counter remedies, including Nyquil.

  • If I am facing drunk-driving charges in Kansas, I will probably be found guilty

This could not be farthest from the truth.  In Kansas, the State must prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Despite how the television often portrays prosecutors as flawless on television, they can and sometimes do make mistakes.  Meaning, the State’s case may be replete with weaknesses, or, the police may have taken measures that actually violated your constitutional rights during your arrest – both of which help strengthen your defense case.

  • If I am convicted of a DUI for the first time, I will likely receive just a slap on the wrist.

Due to evolving public policy in favor of tougher DUI laws, longer as easy as it was in the past to reduce a DUI charge in Kansas to reckless driving.  As such, a person charged for the first time with a DUI could face up to six months in jail and be forced to deal with other serious consequences, as provided under Kansas’ DUI laws.

  • Now that I am facing DUI charges, I am completely defenseless.

As an experienced DUI attorney, I have prevailed in a number of cases due to evidence suppression issues, improper police procedure, and other factors.  While prosecutors do whatever it takes to launch a strong case against you, it takes a seasoned DUI attorney to know how to poke holes in their case and help you fight for your rights.

  • I should hire the first attorney I meet since time is of the essence.

Absolutely not. It is crucial that you work with an attorney who has the experience necessary to effectively represent you and your legal interests.  Despite their claims to the contrary, not every attorney knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system to make a difference in your case and, to mount a strong defense on your behalf.  With this in mind, make sure to interview a number of attorneys before making your final decision.

If you are facing DUI-related charges in Kanas, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you.   For more than 35 years, the attorneys at the Whitman Law Offices have successfully defended thousands of people throughout Lawrence and northeast Kansas facing all type of DUI charges.  As an experienced Kansas DUI attorney, I will take the time necessary to review your case, advise you of the scope of your legal options, and even visit you in jail in the event that you have been arrested.  I invite you to call us at (785) 843-9460 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.