Massive drug sweeps in Arkansas and other jurisdictions usually present significant challenges to the criminal defense attorneys who represent any of the arrested suspects. For one thing, there is usually a rush to the prosecutor’s door by defendants charged with drug crimes who want to get the best plea agreement available. As a general rule, those defendants who are the first to cooperate with prosecutors and who enter into an early guilty plea agreement will receive the most lenient sentences of the multiple suspects facing charges.
The jockeying and bargaining in a case with multiple defendants occurs universally in the state and federal courts. It takes a seasoned and experienced defense counsel to know how to maneuver those unsteady waters in order to get the best treatment for the client. That process is likely now occurring in northeast Arkansas where a massive drug sweep by federal agents recently saw the arrest of 50 persons and left 20 more as fugitives.
The raid was announced and coordinated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas. That office revealed that the investigation started a year and a half ago and that undercover agents made over 160 purchases of illegal drugs and firearms over that period.
Where undercover purchases are made, it is often difficult for a defendant to present a viable defense, particularly where the purchaser is available to testify and make an eyewitness verification of the drug seller. Many undercover sales are also recorded, and that evidence is also important in the prosecution. In any particular criminal case, however, there may be issues of that can represent a strong defense to the charges.
The need to assess both the potential defenses and one’s position in the plea bargaining process are critical reasons why it helps for a drug crimes suspect in a case with multiple defendants to meet and consult with criminal defense counsel immediately after the arrest. A defendant in a federal prosecution in Arkansas could lose a critical chance to get a favorable plea agreement if the assistance of counsel is delayed. Worse yet, the defendant could be exposed to unfavorable treatment by the authorities if he or she attempts to negotiate or answer questions without representation.
Source: Yahoo, “More than 50 people arrested in Arkansas drug, gun case“, Aug. 11, 2015