Oklahoma City Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer
Anna Herman, host
Jacqui Ford, Attorney
Anna Herman: Hello! My name is Anna. Welcome to Your Best Defense podcast. Today we are talking to Oklahoma City drug crimes defense lawyer Jacqui Ford. Hello Jacqui. How are you?
Jacqui Ford, Attorney: I’m doing great Anna. How are you doing?
A: Good! I want to talk to about some things. We’ve got different levels of possession charges out there. Let’s get right to it. If you’re arrested with drugs, we’re going to talk about the different crimes that you may be charged with.
J: Absolutely. And there are quite a few. First of all, in Oklahoma, our drug laws are governed by Title 63 of the Oklahoma statutes. Oklahoma, being right smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, we’re one of the reddest states in the country. Our legislation is very, very harsh. Although we don’t hold ourselves out as being a “three-strikes you’re out”-state, we are in fact, a “three-strikes you’re out.” Especially, when it comes to drug crimes. They’re prosecuted very heavily here.
So, a kind of overall view of drug crimes here in Oklahoma City, you have three different levels. Some drugs, primarily just marijuana, can often times be charged as a misdemeanor, and we’ll talk about marijuana more depth in some of our next podcasts. But removing marijuana from the conversation, and that special place that holds with misdemeanors, every other CDS, marijuana included, and cocaine and meth, and heroin, and ecstasy, and LSD, and crack cocaine, and much anything else you can imagine.
A: Prescription drugs?
J: Many prescription drugs. Possession of those drugs can be deemed a felony. A lot of times people get confused because they’re charged for possession of CDS, and they don’t know what that means. What that means is drugs. And maybe it’s prescription drugs, maybe it’s street drugs, or recreational drugs.
So, we have simple possession of drugs. Which is what most common people think of if you’re charged for possession of CDS. That simply means that you possess some quantity of Schedule I, II, or III drug. That is the lowest level of drug possession.
The second level of drug possession in Oklahoma is called possession with intent to distribute. That is exactly what it sounds like. You possess a quantity, of some sort of drug, the government believes that you intended to share, or sell, or distribute that drug in some way. Many people get confused about possession with intent, because they don’t understand, why they are charged with that when they’re not drug dealers. Possession with intent to distribute doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re accusing you of being a drug dealer. Oklahoma statutes mean that if you share your drugs with another person, that you’ve distributed them. And so, you’re thinking about a very basic level. And when I talk to all my clients, and really all the kids in my life, my nieces and nephews, and talk about marijuana, you know if your hanging out with your friends, and you’re smoking a doobie, and every time you pass that joint, from one to the other, that’s two to life. And that person hits it and passes it to their friend – that’s two to life. Because, technically, under Oklahoma statutes, you are possessing that marijuana, intending to distribute each time you pass it. You have actually distributed CDS. So, it’s not, because you’re a drug dealer.
Another thing we often times hear with client on possession of CDS is they didn’t know that if you’re just the middleman. Right? “I’m not a drug dealer! My friend just needed some weed. My other friend had some weed. So, I just put them together.” You have facilitated a transaction for the sale of drugs. You have, in fact, distributed CDS.
Some other things law enforcement looks at, with respect to possession of CDS with intent, is some other circumstances. How are your drugs packaged? If you’ve got different bags, and then that could be deemed that you might intend to sell it. Right? Sometimes with possession with intent the government looks for scales. Do you have scales weigh the drugs? Do you have a ledger, you know? People think they’re being clever because they can’t remember who they “fronted” to, and who they haven’t. And you wouldn’t believe how many people who sell, or facilitate, the sale drugs keep records of it. They keep records of it on their phone, or in a ledger. You know? ‘Joe Blow: I fronted $20. He owes me $20.’
If you’re arrested, and they find these things that that are indicators of distribution. You’re going to be looking at a heavier charger than possession. Possession with intent in Oklahoma carries up to life in prison. It does not matter what drug it is. First-time possession with intent, marijuana – two to life. Possession with intent meth, five to life. Right? Very, very strong drug laws.
The third level of drug possession in Oklahoma something called trafficking. And trafficking is confusing to people too, because it is not what we think of when we think of the common meaning of trafficking in drugs. Most people think that means that you are, you know, loaded up a semi-truck full of marijuana, or something. And you’re taking it from state to state to state. In fact, trafficking in Oklahoma has nothing to do with moving it from state to state. In fact, trafficking has nothing to do with selling. Sometimes, it’s easier to get a conviction for trafficking of CDS than it is for possession with intent, because unlike possession with intent, where we look for different baggies, or scales, or ledgers, or some other manners of packaging and distributing, trafficking has to do with quantity, and quantity only.
So, if you possess a certain amount of marijuana, and in Oklahoma, marijuana is 25 pounds for trafficking. So, it’s clearly a large amount. If you possess 25 pounds or more of marijuana you can be convicted of trafficking without any evidence you’ve ever sold it to anybody. The mere fact that you possess that quantity presumes that you must be distributing. That gets confusing to a lot of people because every drug is different. For example, crack cocaine. Crack cocaine only requires five grams to meet a trafficking charge in Oklahoma. Five grams of crack cocaine isn’t probably enough to keep somebody high all weekend. You know?
J: It’s an incredibly low amount. And people say, “It’s cheaper to buy it in bulk. Right?” And it is. I, myself, sometimes have these conversations with prosecutors all the time. And we talk to juries about when we try these trafficking cases. Who here would rather buy 30 rolls of toilet paper from Sam’s for the discounted wholesale price, versus going in and buying the four dollar package at 7-11, in which we know is very, very expensive? So, a prudent shopper oftentimes buys in bulk. When you’re buying drugs is not necessarily prudent to save that money because you find yourself with a trafficking charge. Trafficking is very, very dangerous in Oklahoma. You’re not entitled to probation. The statutes are very, very strict. And when you go to prison on trafficking in Oklahoma you have to expect to spend day-for-day whatever you’re sentenced. This idea of “goodtime credits”, and being able to go in and take classes and earn your way out of prison doesn’t apply in trafficking cases. You cannot rely on being able to be released. Most people spend the full sentence in prison.
So, it’s important to know, when we’re making these decisions, if we’re going to engage in illegal activity. It is important to be informed about what the consequences are. With every decision we make, is a cost-benefit analysis. Right? Even if we don’t know we’re making it. Do I want to stop at 7-11 this morning to get a cup of coffee? Well, it will take three minutes to stop. It’s going to cost me $.89. I’m really in a hurry, and there’s a lot of people there. The “cost” of stopping might not be worth the benefit of enjoying that hot cup of coffee. It’s going to make you late for work, or spend money. It’s a very simplistic idea of thinking about it. But every decision we make we have to weigh our cost and the benefit of that.
With respect to possessing drugs, obviously they’re illegal. Our legal advice is don’t do it, but if you are going to do it, you need to be smart about it. So, they can’t hem me up for the rest of your life. Because, the bad news is, in Oklahoma, ignorance of the law is not a defense. So, when you come in with 5.2 grams of crack cocaine, and that is just what you we’re going to use for the weekend. And you say, “I wasn’t tracking. I wasn’t intending to sell it. I was just possessing. I didn’t know.” The state of Oklahoma doesn’t care that you didn’t know. Now, you’ve got big, big problems. Not only does it increase your bond and range of punishment, but those legal fees go up too.
A: Right. Awesome. Okay, so I think you’ve told us about everything we need to know about the three categories. But as an experienced Oklahoma City drug crimes defense lawyer, what exactly would I expect if I were getting arrested for one of these right now?
J: Well, the first thing I tell all of my clients is, “Do not talk to the police. Do not answer any of their questions.” You have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and I implore you, I beg you, I order you, too freaking use it! Law enforcement has great techniques, and they’re going to ask you, you know if you’re pulled over in a car, “Just where are the drugs? Tell us where the drugs are. If you tell me where the drugs are I’m going to make this easier on you.” That is not true. That is a common police technique used to get you to: 1) allow them to search, 2) confess, and 3) you’re doing their job for them.
If you make statements, to law enforcement, after having been arrested, those statements can, and they absolutely will, be used against you. Especially, if they’re incriminating in any way. So, my first piece of advice: don’t answer any questions. Get arrested. Do it quietly. Do it respectfully. Once those handcuffs are on, they are not coming off. You cannot talk yourself out of it. That’s the number one mistake that people make is trying to get out of it. Once you’re under arrest, you’re under arrest. I ask you to treat the law-enforcement officers with respect. Go get arrested, booked in, and get your bondsman, and get out.
Then the next thing you do is you call me. You have to pick up the phone and you have to call an Oklahoma City drug crimes lawyer. And that’s what we do here. It’s different than picking up the phone and calling Uncle Joe who did your mom’s divorce or whatever. You have to find someone who has experience in Oklahoma City defending drug crimes, and that’s what we do here.
So, when you come into my office we’ll do our intake. I’ll tell you what to expect within the court system. And that would take way too long to explain on this podcast. But there are number of things that I know the Court’s going to require you to do. Things I know the law in Oklahoma requires you to do if you’re charged with, and ultimately intend to enter a plea, or are found guilty of possession of CDS, possession with intent CDS, or trafficking in CDS. All of those are governed again by Title 63. And I know that we’re going to have to do certain things.
The first thing I’m going to ask you to do is go do a drug and alcohol assessment. That is a state-certified assessor is going to ask you a series of questions. Those questions are scaled questions. They will ask you about the arrest, they’re going to ask you a lot of personal stuff. And without know fully going into what’s going to happen in that assessment, you answer those questions, and your assessor puts those answers into some sort of formula. And she’ll make some sort of recommendations of what you need to do. So, with DUIs it’s often times very easy. We know exactly what they’re going to ask us to do.
In drug crimes, it’s a little bit different. After your assessment is complete your assessor, based upon your answers, is going to make recommendations. Those recommendations could be anything from going to a couple of AA or NA meetings here locally. Those recommendations are good because those meetings are free, and whether you actually have a drug or alcohol problem, I fully believe that every one of us could stand to go to a 12-step meeting every now and then. And listen to the stories of others and see where these decisions have taken some other folks, and maybe that had happened to us, maybe it won’t. But, it cost you nothing. It’s only an hour of your time.
Another thing drug and alcohol assessor might recommend that you do, is do a couple of clean UAs. A UA is short, of course, for urinalysis. You have to go to a state-certified place, and you pee in a cup, and test they test that pee. They’re going to test you for any illegal narcotics, and those results will be provided back to me. Sometimes, if we have a long history of drug charges, and this looks like it’s more than just a recreational thing and we got caught. If there appears to be some sort of problem an assessor may recommend outpatient treatment. The worst recommendation, the harshest thing they could recommend, obviously, would be long-term inpatient treatment. And if our assessor makes those recommendations part of what we do here is help you find a place to meet those requirements. Very rarely do my clients have to be ordered to inpatient treatment.
Most of the things that the court is going to expect of you, or want from you, I’m here to help you do. We can do it pre-plea so that it’s not scary. Oftentimes my clients find themselves in a class learning about substance-related abuse, impulse controls, trying to not find themselves in this position again. The reality is, I don’t care what people do with their lives. If you want to partake in recreational drug use, by all means, whatever works for you is up to you. The law says it’s illegal.
My belief is if you’re going to choose to engage in those activities you need to do it in a safe, smart manner. If you want to cause harm to your body, do it at home. Don’t do it while your kids are around. Being arrested and charged with drugs in the presence of minors enhances, not only your bond, it enhances your punishment, and quite frankly it is rather more offensive to society. It is also more offensive to jurors. Jurors who can forgive you for poisoning your own body are less likely to forgive you for poisoning your children’s body, or allowing them to be around recreational drug use.
So, number one, if you’re be using be using – be smart. Don’t use around the kids. Don’t use in your car, okay? If they’re writing songs about ‘ridin’ dirty’, it’s for a reason. A number one way cops get in your car is by claiming that you were smoking marijuana. They could smell a strong odor of burnt marijuana. They no longer need a warrant to get into your car. They can search your car and anything they find in that car can be used against you, whether there is marijuana, or guns, or other drugs, or anything. So, don’t ‘ride dirty’. Don’t smoke weed in the car. It’s dangerous and it’s stupid.
In addition to that. Don’t carry drugs to the courthouse. You wouldn’t think I would have to tell people this, but sometimes we forget, and you’re going through courthouse to go through security and they ask you empty to your pockets. And the next thing you know you’ve pulled out a joint out of your pocket. Now, we have not only the crime you were originally charged with, but the new crime of possession of marijuana while in the courthouse. And those are a little bit tough. So, don’t be a knucklehead.
If you’re going to use cocaine, or use methamphetamine, lick that baggie like any other cocaine user and throw it away. One of the things I see more often than not, is people are charged with possession of cocaine or possession of meth because they have a baggie in their wallet. What are you saving the baggie for? Dispose of your drug paraphernalia when you are done with it, and do not carry around with you. You are begging to get arrested. The residue that’s in that baggie, you might think it’s just a baggie and they can’t charge you. If they can test and find cocaine and/or meth, or whatever is in that baggie is a quantifiable amount to test, you’re now charged with possession of CDS. So, throw the baggie away. Don’t carry the straw around. If you insist on snorting with a dollar bill – unroll it and get the cocaine off of it.
Don’t carry these things around with you. People get too comfortable. We get comfortable when we do things repeatedly, and we don’t get caught, and we don’t think it’s a big deal. At the day, whether you think it’s a big deal or you don’t think it’s a big deal, I promise you the person in the big black dress sitting behind the bench in that courtroom, who you call ‘Your Honor’ thinks it’s a big deal. So, if it’s not that big of a deal throw it away. If it’s not that big of a deal, if it’s just a little bit of weed – smoke it at home. Because if it’s not that big of a deal, then you don’t need to be smoking it later.
And what I tell every single one of my clients, I care how good it is, people use drugs to feel better. For whatever it might be that’s ailing them. Sickness or sadness or depression – not a single one of those highs is worth a minute in the Oklahoma County jail. There is not a quality of marijuana that exists on this earth that can justify to me spending a night in the Oklahoma County jail. It is filthy. It is disgusting. And your defense is expensive.
So, when you think about the cost-benefit analysis of choosing to partake in illegal narcotics you have to decide: Is this high worth these risks? And if the answer is ‘no’, then don’t do it. If the answer is ‘yes’, by all means it’s your opinion and it’s your life – do it smartly. Don’t be arrogant. Don’t be greedy. And don’t travel with it. There are teams of law-enforcement officers that are dedicated in our community, and in every community, to stop and interdict drugs and drug trafficking. That’s their whole job. They have canines in the back seat of their car, and they are there to pull you over for speeding, and see if they can pop you for drugs. And if they’ve got drugs, and you’ve got them in your car, and have any quantity of money, or anything of value, you better bet law enforcement is going to try seize that too.
So, the little bitty thing, the little bitty lonely decision that you make to smoke a little bit weed, all of a sudden has now snowballed into a ginormous mess. Because now you’ve got a drug charge, and you’ve got a drug bond. Now you have to hire an Oklahoma City drug crimes defense lawyer which isn’t cheap. And you’re going to have to go defend yourself. And hopefully law enforcement hasn’t seized every dollar that was in your wallet, which may be every money that you have, and your car, and anything else of value.
Hindsight is 20/20. One of the most sad conversations I have with my clients when the set across this desk is they say, “Miss Ford, I had no idea.” And I feel for these people because I know that that’s true. Law enforcement’s response is, “Well, you knew it was wrong. So you shouldn’t be surprised.” I find that offensive. We might know the difference between right and wrong. We all make wrong choices all the time. It doesn’t have to defend us, or define us, but it certainly should be something that we think about moving forward. “Is this choice worth it? If it is, what’s the best way to engage in doing it?” So, be smart. Get high at home. Don’t do it around the kids, and don’t get in the car and, probably, nobody will ever know the difference.
A: Awesome. That’s a lot really good information Jacqui. Thank you.
J: Thank you Anna. It’s always fun talking to you.
A: You’ve been listening to Jacquelyn Ford Oklahoma City drug crimes defense lawyer. Thank you for joining us. And, we hope to see you next time.’
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