Legal Question in Criminal Law in Mississippi

I am a college student living in Mississippi in a house with three roommates. There was suspicion that one of my roommates was selling marijuana out of his room in our house and long story short our house was raided by the narcotics team with warrant to search the entire house. In my room they found a couple of grams of marijuana along with paraphernalia. I am confident that I will be charged with those two charges but here is where things get complicated. In my walk-in closet they found a small cooler that had soil in it along with a desk lamp a few feet away as well as a small bedroom fan a few feet from that. They want to charge me with a felony for "manufacturing marijuana" even though they did not find a marijuana plant. The narcotics agents believe I flushed it down the toilet before they raided the house because they found traces of soil in my bathroom. They did not take any of the "growing equipment" with them as evidence either. Do they have sufficient evidence to charge me with this felony? Im pretty worried because I have a clean record and have never been in trouble before.

Asked on 2/13/13, 1:29 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Wayne Woodall Wayne Woodall Attorney

Unfortunately, because the agents have "soverign immunity" they are immune from any lawsuits when they make allegations which result in an Indictment. If they believe they have sufficient proof to obtain an Indictment you can probably expect an Indictment to be rendered in the case. Because all they have to show is that there was a scintilla of evidence. to support the Indictment. Further, YOU are not present when the evidence is presented to the Grand Jury thus you have no opportunity to refute any allegations or to place the true blame on others who were in the residence who may have had access to the same areas of the home where the alleged "contraband" was located. Finally, the presence of soil on the floor of the bathroom is immaterial. Unless there was a soil test to document that the soil on the bathroom floor had the exact same composition and chemical makeup as that which was in the pot in the closet, AND unless they can prove there was contraband being grown in the pot which was in the closet, in my opinion the evidence they have is insufficeint to support a conviction. Nevertheless, the Prosecutor probably will take the position that he will obtain the Indictment and see what happens because a lot of times people who are Indicted are scared to contest the charges to such an extent that even the weakest case ultimately results in a conviction due to the fact that the Defendant and/or his Attorney do not have the "guts" to contest the issues and demand a trial on the merits.

With respect to the prior record, (i.e., not previously arrested) that will not help you much but had there been a previous illegal incident such an incident would have hurt you significantly. It is without doubt that although they did not take the "growing equipment" with them they probably photographed the entire area and are planning on using the photos to support the efforts to obtain an indictment.

Last but not least you need to realize you are in a "College town" and the "Locals" sit on the Grand Jury and on the Petit Jury and you will be "stereotyped as a dope smoking college student" by the Prosecutor in this case. You would be well advised to hire competent criminal defense counsel. You may wish to consider "out of town" counsel if you are concerned that the local defense attorney will be working with the District Attorney on the case because he will be involved in future asking for assistance and/or reductions on other cases. If you are the only client the Defense Attorney would expect to have with the DA's Office you probably will end up with a good outcome if the case is stringently contested. Contests, however, are not cheap. Public Defender services are strained to such an extent that it is common that they do not have the time to take cases to trial but prefer to expedite the cases by convincing the clients to enter a plea.

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Answered on 2/14/13, 10:19 am

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