My brother and I were shopping and as we went our separate ways he ended up alarming one of the workers. They thought he was shop lifting, which he wasn't. We were followed to my vehicle and once we got inside we were then confronted and the police performed a search for stolen items. I was the driver. Two Ecstasy pills were found STUFFED in the driver seat of my vehicle during the search. The vehicle was purchased about a year ago from my mechanic and the pills aren't mine nor did i have any knowledge of them being there. Even though I had no knowledge of the pills they arrested me because they were in my seat.Im a FT Student and I cant afford to retain an attorney so I had to accept a court appointed attorney. I have no priors. Nothing at all. What could be the outcome of this situation?
Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether you have a court appointed or hired lawyer has nothing to do with the situation. You purchased the vehicle a year ago and never cleaned it out? Was the car full of trash and junk when the police looked through it, or was it substantially clean? Had you taken it to a car detailing shop during the year? What would the mechanic say about the condition of the vehicle? Was it his? Does he have a criminal record for drugs? Have you loaned out your vehicle to anyone who uses drugs, especially in the recent past? Are the pills clean or nasty like they have been in the seat crack for a year? If I was working on the case, these are some of things I would want to know? (Can you pass a hair follicle test for drugs?)
It is just difficult to imagine that in a year you did not clean out the car or if you did, that you did not find that pills.
Another possible issue is the legality of the search. Did you give them permission to search your vehicle? If not, then I'm not sure that they had the legal right to do so. (If so, then you would use this to argue that you had no knowledge of the drugs or you would not have given permission to search.)
The State must prove that you knew that the drugs were there. Obviously they cannot prove that directly so there are some cases which list affirmative links which will support a conviction for possession if drugs are found in a vehicle. Some of the links include whether one is the driver of the vehicle, whether one owns the vehicle, the location of the drugs in relation to the person charged, whether the drugs could be seen, whether the drugs could be smelled. . . Based on the affirmative links, if a jury found you guilty an appellate court would uphold the conviction.
The outcome of the situation could be that you apply for and receive pre-trial diversion. This would require that you admit that the pills were yours. You could received deferred adjudication probation, which would require that you plead guilty; you receive straight probation which would require that you plead guilty; you accept a state jail term upon a plea of guilty (not likely at all); you set the case for trial.
Investigation needs to be done on your case to determine the answer to the questions I pose, and probably others that would arise as a result of an investigation.
Work with your lawyer to gather helpful information and stop with negativity regarding the lawyer because they are court appointed. That particular bit of information does not, alone, mean anything. There are some very good appointed lawyers in Houston (as well as some very bad.)
Although I have answered the question to try to help you, you should consult with a lawyer in your area in person on the matter. In addition, my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Focusing only on the search and the pills, Ms. Henley is right regarding the potentially illegality of the search. It is possible that a motion to suppress would win, allowing the evidence to be excluded.
It also sounds like you could put forth a solid defense that you had no knowledge of the narcotics and that even though the car was yours, there are no other affirmative links to the narcotics. If you can, hire an attorney- what seems like a lot of money now, won't in a few years especially if you can avoid a conviction. If you can't afford it, trust in your appointed attorney, and cooperate with him/her in preparing a defense or seeking a pretrial diversion.
Although my intent in answering this question is to aid you in the legal process, my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship in any way. You should seek the advice and counsel of a qualified attorney in your community to evaluate your legal needs and to advise you. No Attorney-Client Relationship is created without the specific intent of both parties.