1. No discovery Send a discovery letter/letter of representation to both the District Attorney/Municipal Prosecutor, Police Records Bureau of the law enforcement agency which issued the complaint and the Court Clerk. Failure of the state to provide discovery may be grounds to dismiss the charges.
2. Suppression A timely Motion to Suppress Evidence must be made. Do it immediately; do not wait to receive discovery.
3. Subpoena witnesses defense counsel should subpoena witnesses, sometimes even serving a subpoena duces tecum on the arresting officer to compel him to bring to court the object allegedly observed in plain view. Credibility will be tested when the object that was claimed to be in plain view inside a car is actually only one half inch long. Cross examination is pivotal in determining credibility. Failure to subpoena a witness may be malpractice if your necessary witness is not present.
4. First Offender programs Many states provide that a person not previously convicted of a drug offense and who has not previously been granted "supervisory treatment" may apply for a conditional discharge/dismissal of charges. The court, upon notice to the prosecutor, may suspend further proceedings and place the defendant on supervisory treatment (i.e., probation, supervised or unsupervised attendance at Narcotics Anonymous, etc.).
5. No lab tests The State must prove the substance seized was a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). To prove the substance is CDS, either the lab technician who examined the substance must be called testify, or the State will have to admit the lab certificate. If the State intends to proffer the lab certificate at the trial, a notice of an intent to proffer that certificate, and all reports relating to the analysis of the CDS, should be served by the state on defense counsel. This includes an actual copy of the lab certificate. Defense counsel must notify the prosecutor in writing of defendant's objection to the admission into evidence of the certificate, plus set forth the grounds for objection. Failure by defense counsel to timely object shall constitute a waiver of any objection to the certificate, thus, the certificate will be submitted into evidence. If the state can't introduce lab results, the state can't use.
6. Chain of Custody The State must then establish a chain of custody. The prosecutor's witness will call additional witnesses to prove the locations of the seized drugs from the moment of initial seizure to the time of the testing of the illegal drug. Defense counsel can contest the chain of custody.
7. Confession excluded If the state will be attempting to introduce a confession or other incriminating statements, defense counsel may request an Evidence rule hearing to determine if the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona 384 US. 436 (1966) have been violated. 8. Constructive possession not proven The burden of primary possession/constructive possession remains on the State.
The State must prove it was defendant's conscious intention to obtain or possess the item while being aware it was cocaine. Defendant's constructive possession may sometimes be shown by proof that the narcotics were subject to dominion and control. If two or more persons share actual or constructive possession, then their possession is joint. However, mere presence on premises where CDS is found is not sufficient, in itself, to justify an inference that a particular defendant was in sole or joint possession of the substance.