Why Many Individuals are Wrongfully Convicted
Drug-related activities, which include simple possession, possession with intent, sale of a controlled substance, drug manufacturing, drug trafficking, and drug conspiracy, are serious federal and state crimes and are punished with mandatory sentences, steep fines, and possibly many hours of community service, among others. (A mandatory sentence refers to the penalties a court must hand down to a person convicted of certain offense. Felony offenses, under state law, are punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one year imprisonment. Class A felonies, which are the most serious of offenses under state law, carry a mandatory minimum of 15 years jail time. Mandatory minimum sentences, however, may be increased due to certain factors, such as prior convictions or aggravating factors.)
Every year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) makes more than 30,000 arrests due to drug-related crimes. Two specific arrests frequently made by state or federal arresting officers are simple possession of illegal drugs and possession with intent. As explained in the website of the law firm Brent Horst, simple possession alleges that an individual had a controlled substance for his or her own personal use (illegal or controlled substance includes cocaine, heroin, marijuana and ecstasy, which is otherwise known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Heroin, marijuana and ecstasy are Schedule I drugs or drugs with no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse; cocaine, on the other hand, is a Schedule II drug or a type of illegal drug that has high potential for abuse, the use of which can potentially lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
A worse offense than simple possession is possession with intent. This offense alleges that a person who possesses illegal drugs has intent to sell, distribute, deliver, or even manufacture the controlled substance. A simple possession charge can be elevated to possession with intent due to the amount of drugs possessed – it being too much for one person to use. Besides this, the presence of some items, like sand/mall plastic bags, containers, or scales are more likely indicative of a possessor’s intent to sell. While simple possession may only be a misdemeanor, possession with intent is always considered by state and federal authorities as a felony.
Those involved in drug crimes and other drug-related activities should be caught and punished according to the stipulations of the law. However, many law firms, like Brent Horst, for example, know that many individuals are made to suffer years of jail term despite innocence on the charges brought against them. Wrong conviction can be due to:
Systemic bias, or institutional bias, which refers to an inherent tendency to support particular outcomes (such as excluding black jurors from trials involving African Americans);
“Tunnel vision” or confirmation bias,” which involves forming an initial impression about one person’s guilt, and then tunneling or focusing on proving that person’s guilt while overlooking exculpatory information and other suspects; and,
Plea bargaining, wherein an accused would rather confess to a crime despite innocence so as to be given only a minimum sentence for her offense. While a plea bargain would save a person from a lengthy time in jail (the sentence the crime really deserves) it also forgoes the necessity