Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a narcotics drug trafficking case that illuminates the ways a narcotics transportation for sale (commonly known as drug trafficking) case can be challenged. The case, Arizona v. Urrea, is worth discussing, as are the different ways to defend against this charge.
First, what happened in Arizona v. Urrea? In this case, the defendant, Urrea, was stopped while driving for committing a minor traffic violation. At some point the police asked to search his vehicle, and Urrea agreed. During the search, law enforcement discovered a significant amount of cocaine in the trunk of his car, and he was arrested and charged with narcotics possession and transportation for sale.
During his trial, Urrea’s defense attorneys tried to suppress the evidence of the drugs. They argued that law enforcement’s stop of Urrea, as well as the search of his car and related seizure as a result of the search, violated Urrea’s Fourth Amendment rights. Further, Urrea’s attorneys asked that the detective who pulled Urrea over, searched his car, and arrested him be prevented from testifying as an expert witness for the prosecution. Additionally, the defense asserted what is known as a Batson challenge during jury selection, a type of challenge which is used to allege that a potential juror was unjustly removed from the selection pool due to their race, gender, or other unconstitutional factor.
Ultimately, Urrea was convicted of charges. Though he appealed both the conviction and the sentence, they were upheld. In part, this was because, as the appeals court stated, that the lower court judge reinstated jurors who had been unfairly excluded. However, this was also because the appeals court said the defendant did not properly reserve his right to seek other alternatives besides a retrial during the original trial.
The Urrea case contains several important lessons for defending against narcotics transportation for sale allegations. First, experienced criminal defense attorneys must always know how to recognize the signs that police did not lawfully search your vehicle or other property. At Blischak Law, we have successfully represented numerous clients who were victims of unlawful law enforcement searches.
Second, criminal defense attorneys must also be able to recognize the signs that individuals are being unconstitutionally excluded from the jury pool due to their race or gender. At Blischak Law, we know from experience that prosecutors will, unfortunately, sometimes try to pull this trick in an effort to make the jury pool as biased against you as possible. We are experienced in asserting Batson challenges and will fight for your right to be tried by a jury of your peers.
Lastly, the Urrea case teaches us how important it is for criminal defense attorneys to properly reserve their clients’ right to seek other alternatives to their sentence other than a retrial. At Blischak Law, we always work to make sure our clients have the strongest representation and have the widest array of options at their disposal at all times.
If you are charged with a crime, the best thing you can do for yourself is to give Blischak Law a call. We have successfully defended clients in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Yuma, Flagstaff, and Glendale areas, and are ready to help you. Contact us today.
Posted in: Drug Offenses