Federal drug conspiracy charges are extremely serious and as a result it is important you understand what exactly you are facing. Below, a DC federal drug lawyer discusses the types of evidence that will likely be presented at trial and how an attorney can defend such evidence. For more specific information regarding your case, call today.
In conspiracy cases, you see a lot of wiretaps because that evidence is used to prove the existence of the agreement to engage in the illegal activity. Typically, it’s the electronic evidence that law enforcement agents are seeking because they have to prove the agreement. The interesting issue that arises in a lot of drug conspiracy cases is that they record communications without capturing anyone actually speaking about drugs. This is where a defense attorney can really dig into the evidence to generate an aggressive defense.
The government is always going to allege that there’s some sort of coded language involved, and they’ll bring in an experienced law enforcement officer to interpret the communications. They will typically say things like, “When the individuals were talking about fried chicken or talking about getting salad, or talking about bringing somebody lunch, they were talking about a drug transaction.” At certain points, their interpretations defy common sense because it’s an exercise in circular logic.
In other words, they believe that someone is engaged in a drug transaction, therefore the conversation must be about a drug transaction. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy; but this is the main type of evidence in a drug conspiracy case. There are also law enforcement agents who will try and obtain financial records. They will also attempt to do a fair amount of surveillance on people to attempt to track their movements.
There are sometimes cases where police will obtain a warrant to put a GPS tracker on someone’s car, pin registers to monitor basic phone activity, and subpoenas for phone record. I have also seen what’s called a trash rip, where law enforcement agents will actually go through someone’s trash to see if they can find some sort of evidence of drug distribution.
No, you don’t need a warrant to look through someone’s trash because people don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in trash that they’ve put out. They’ve abandoned it. That’s the principle behind it, so a warrant is not regulated.
The first step in defending against such allegations is to conduct an extensive analysis of the recorded conversations. If a law enforcement agent is trying to testify that a particular term refers to something illegal, sometimes what we’ll do is we’ll explore the context of the conversation to show how that just doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes, that involves looking at other terms that are used in the conversation.
To ask, for example, “Well, if this person said something about chicken, and you’re saying that must mean a drug transaction. Well, they also said the word car. Why doesn’t that mean drug transactions?” This technique aims to illustrate how silly that sort of analysis can be and how it often defies logic.
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