Contributed by: Blue Law
I was a criminal defense lawyer in a large US state until recently switching to civil. I do not grow, but I am a "friend of the herb". This FAQ will cover what to do after you have been busted.
OK, so you've been busted, now what?
First, face reality. What you've done is illegal.
You should invoke your 5th Amendment right to remain silent immediately upon your arrest. When you are busted you need to keep your mouth shut tight "I want to SPEAK to my lawyer!" should be your only words.
Second, hold your head up high. What is illegal should not be. You are now a casualty in an unjust and corrupt war.
Third, get busy! Research a good criminal defense lawyer. You should have already done this (more on that later). But, if you didn't, ask around.
What should I look for in a lawyer?
Most lawyers will do a free consultation. Beware the attorney who promises that he can get a specific deal for you. Promises of this nature are unethical, and an unethical lawyer is more likely to screw you. Drug case are very specialized and technical.
I would want at least 5 years criminal defense experience, the more drug cases the better. The better he (or she) knows your prosecutor and judge, the better off you will be. Get a lawyer who has practiced in the jurisdiction where your case will be adjudicated.
Each state, county and even the particular judge will have different rules about pretrial and trial procedure. Your lawyer must aware of these differences. Missed filing or appearance dates can be extremely damaging. Your lawyer should be familiar with various bail bondsman and direct you to one who is honest .
Keeping the name and number of your lawyer in your wallet, can be beneficial in easing you through the process during a bust.
After you find a lawyer you feel comfortable with, LISTEN TO HIM!!! You can help yourself out by appearing interested in your own case, being realistic, and being polite. Venting your rage won't help anything, neither will explaining your vast knowledge of the law (Ask any questions you may have, but let your lawyer do his job).
How much will a lawyer cost?
With the exception of a public defender, you will be paying much of your hard earned (grown?) cash to your lawyer for his wise counsel.
Depending on your area, his skill, experience, etc., will cost from $130 (small town) to $350 per HOUR (US). Lawyers specializing in drug cases may cost even more.
He will estimate how much time it will take for an investigation, preparing papers to file, going to pre-trial hearings, entering a plea or going to trial, etc, and come up with a figure.
You need to honest with yourself about the strength of the evidence against you, and be thinking about whether you want to accept a plea bargain or a bench (judge) or jury trial.
Most lawyers will demand the full amount up front. (Some will demand upfront, on the trial date). There is no such thing as a contingency fee in criminal law; they are illegal.
Your costs will include weekly payments to your bondsman, and all the ordinary expenses of daily life until trial date.
The more money you have the less likely you will see the inside of a prison cell. Not because the system is inherently corrupt or you can bribe anyone (bad idea), but because a legal team costs money. Commercial growers should set aside a sizeable amount, somewhere that is UNTRACEABLE TO YOU.
Public or Court-appointed defenders
If your indictment is felony grade, the 6th Amendment entitles you to a lawyer paid for by the state, otherwise known as the public defender or a court appointed lawyer, if you can't afford to pay for one yourself.
Expect to have a short hearing on what assets you own that may be converted into cash to pay for your own lawyer. Judges don't like defendants suckling from the public teat if its avoidable.
Public defenders get a bad rap, but they are often the most experienced criminal lawyers around, and likely know everyone in the system.
The 6th Amendment has been interpreted to not only provide you with counsel when charged, but also with a lawyer you can SPEAK TO within a REASONABLE time. What is reasonable varies by jurisdiction (anywhere from 2 days to a month).