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Drug trafficking and drug distribution are serious criminal offenses with serious consequences including lengthy prison sentences and fines. Police and prosecutors spend considerable time and money to investigate drug crimes and prosecute those individual against whom drug charges are brought.

The district attorney in New York recently announced the conclusion of a six-month investigation that included wiretap evidence and operations by undercover police officers leading to the search and seizure of drugs and the arrest of the individuals accused of running two separate high level drug operations. The 35 individuals who were indicted on drug charges face penalties that include incarceration in state prison for anywhere from 15 years to life.

Use of wiretaps, undercover officers and search warrants to obtain evidence of illegal activities are common investigative tools used by law enforcement. State laws and provisions of the U.S. Constitution impose stringent rules and regulations on the methods police use to gather evidence during a criminal investigation.

When police violate these rules, the evidence they have obtained could be challenged by the defense as unlawfully obtained. If a judge agrees with the defendant, the prosecution could be prohibited from using it at trial as proof of the guilt of the accused.

It falls upon the defense attorney to review all aspects of the criminal charges filed in a particular case to determine if there are grounds for challenging the evidence law enforcement has gathered against the accused. If appropriate under the facts and circumstances of a case, a motion to exclude the evidence might be part of the defense strategy. Taking this or other steps to protect the rights of the person accused of drug offenses might convince prosecutors to reduce charges or lessen the penalties imposed.

Source: New York Daily News, “2 Manhattan drug crews taken down after 6-month wiretap probe, authorities say,” Shayna Jacobs, June 26, 2015

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