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Orienting Yourself to the Court System
ARRESTED FOR SELLING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS IN INDIANA?
August 30, 2018
If you are arrested for selling your prescription medication in the state of Indiana, you need to know a few things – mainly, that there is a distinction between street drugs and prescription medications and how the weight of the drugs in question affects the severity of penalties.
According to the law, I.C. 38-48-4-2, the level of the felony charge is determined by the “weight of the drug” in grams. However, the actual “weight of the drug” is different than the weight of the pill or capsule that contains the prescription “drug.”
Prescription drugs are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. That makes prescription drugs different than drugs that are “cooked” at home or in a shack. When a pharmaceutical company manufactures prescription medication, the manufacturing process is controlled and regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. The amount of the specific drug, such as Adderrall, is precise down to the milligram.
During the manufacturing process, each individual pill or capsule that contains the prescription drug, is imprinted with a code to identify that particular prescription drug. For example, each capsule containing Adderrall that is manufactured by Activis Elizabeth LLC is imprinted with the code “R 3061.” This orange capsule weighs 444mg (nearly ½ a gram). Yet, only 30mg of that capsule’s weight is the prescription drug Adderrall.
In this example of Adderrall, let’s say the sale is for 25 capsules of “R 3061." That makes the total weight of the capsules 11.1g. However, the combined weight of the prescription drug itself is only 0.75g. In other words, the actual weight of the Schedule II Controlled Substance does not even come up to 1 gram. Why does this matter? It matters greatly in terms of how ultimately, a defendant is sentenced for selling drugs. In the case described, the distinction is between being charged for a Level 3 Felony (if the entire weight of the drug was used to determine the drug charge) versus a Level 6 Felony. In terms of sentencing, the person accused is looking at a 9-year prison term versus only 1 year.
Recently, one of my clients faced charges of selling his own prescription drugs. He was overcharged for the alleged crimes involved and faced 9 years in prison. Among the charges was that of possession of cocaine. Not only did he not possess any cocaine, but also, law enforcement did not find any cocaine. For a case such as this, it’s not uncommon for a defendant to be overcharged in an attempt to make at least some of the charges stick. Because I researched the distinction between the weight of pharmaceutical drugs, how the drugs were handled as evidence, and took the time and energy to depose law enforcement involved in the arrest, I was able to have his charges greatly reduced and ultimately, have his case dismissed.
Don't think of...(Defining a Trial Lawyer)
August 23, 2018
Several times a year, I am asked what it means to be a trial lawyer. Sometimes, a client says, “Your card says you’re a trial lawyer. What do you mean by calling yourself a ‘trial lawyer?’” Of course he wants to understand the distinction between a trial lawyer and the garden-variety, simply-defined “lawyer.” If I were referred to as just a lawyer, that would be similar to calling a brain specialist a “doctor” instead of a “neurologist.”
So, I got to thinking. What is a trial lawyer?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a “trial lawyer” as a “lawyer who engages chiefly in the trial of cases before courts of original jurisdiction.”
Ok. I can go with that. Up to a point. However, I think it is more properly defined in the way you might try not to think of what a trial lawyer is - similar to how you can't help but think about an elephant when someone tells you not to think about an elephant:. By not thinking about what a trial lawyer is.
Don’t think of the years of schooling.
Don’t think of the personal sacrifice of relationships and good times to allow research of cases of important precedent.
Don’t think of soul-searching through postmortems to understand what caused the loss of a case.
Don’t think of working late into the night to craft the perfect argument.
Don’t think of unknotting the multiple threads of every case, those that are inextricably woven together.
Don’t think of concentrating on every word uttered to detect flaws within one second’s passing.
Don’t think of identifying your own selfishness that might be preventing you from moving forward.
Don’t think of being the voice of someone who is dead.
Don’t think of the time, effort and thought to make you the best witness for your own defense.
Don’t think of making split-second decisions in the face of huge consequences should you err.
Don’t think of spontaneous moments and flashes of brilliance.
Don’t think of courage.
Don’t think of loyalty.
Don’t think of dedication.
Don’t think of compassion.
Don’t think of risk.
Don’t think of fear.
Don’t think of the client’s fears.
Don’t think of simply permitting confusion to be just that: confusion.
Don’t think of simply permitting frustration to simply be in the moment.
Don’t think of years of experience.
Don’t think of always learning.
Don’t think about cops who betray our trust.
Don’t think about prosecutors over charging.
Don’t think about judges that are rigid to the point of injustice.
Don’t think of not being able to relax, even when your eyes and brain scream for rest.
Don’t think about all things you need to do but don’t have time to do them.
Don’t think of never having the security of a guaranteed outcome.
Don’t think of the satisfaction of doing what’s right.
Don’t think of righting a wrong.
Don’t think of clearing a hundred hurdles and outlasting those hurdles.
Don’t think of . . .
Don’t think of . . .
Don’t think of . . .
You see, when you try to not think about what a trial lawyer is or how he or she is defined, you find that all along, you already knew:
A trial lawyer is a true friend.
What is this Cause Number Thingy?
A CAUSE NUMBER is simply the number that the Clerk of Courts office assigns to ANY case that is opened in the particular court that the action involving you has been brought.
When looking at your CAUSE NUMBER, you will see 4 separate sets of numbers or letters or numbers and letter, separated by a dash, similar to this example: 01D01-1801-IF-0001. Each set of characters helps to identify the specific court the case is in, the year and month that the case was opened, the type of case and the number for that case.
COURT YEAR & MONTH FILED TYPE of CASE CASE NUMBER
01D01 1801 IF 0001
In this example, we can determine by the CAUSE NUMBER that the offense charged is an INFRACTION, or in plain terms, it is a traffic ticket that is the first traffic ticket issued in Adams County in January of 2018. The Judge will be the Honorable Patrick Miller who is the only Superior Court Judge elected in Adams County and all hearings will take place in the Superior Court which is on the street west of the Adams County Courthouse.
So . . . how did I get all of that information from the CAUSE NUMBER?
THE COURT IDENTIFIER – “Numbers – Letter – Numbers” (01D01):
The Indiana Court system is made up of two different types of county courts: Circuit Court and Superior Court. And, in some counties, there can be multiple judges for each court. In this example, the 01D01 is the unique identifier for the Adams County Superior Court. The Numbers BEFORE the Letter tell us the County. The Clerks of Courts for the State of Indiana identify counties numerically to relate to an alphabetical listing of counties. In Northeast Indiana, the Counties are given the following numbers:
Adams County . . . . . . . . . . . . 01
Allen County . . . . . . . . . . . ..... 02
DeKalb County . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Elkhart County . . . . . . . . . . ....20
Fulton County . . . . . . . . . . . ...25
Grant County . . . . . . . . . . ...... 27
Huntington County . . . . . . . . . 35
Jay County . . . . . . . . . . . .........38
Kosciusko County . . . . . . . . . ..43
Lagrange County . . . . . . . . . ....44
Marshall County. . . . .. . . . . . . 50
Miami County . . . . . . . . . . . ....52
Noble County . . . . . . . . . . . .... 57
St. Joseph County . . . . . . . ... 71
Steuben County . . . . . . . . . .. .76
Wabash County . . . . . . . . . .... 85
Wells County . . . . . . . . . . . .....90
Whitley County . . . . . . . . . ..... 92
The Letter tells you the type of court – either it is the Circuit Court or it will be in a Superior Court.
C = Circuit Court
D = Superior Court
The numbers AFTER the letter tell you which specific Superior Court or Circuit Court is presiding over your case. In our example (01D01-1801-IF-001), the court is Superior Court 1. This is the court where the elected Superior Court Judge Patrick Miller presides.
Other counties, such as Allen, DeKalb and Elkhart Counties have multiple Superior Court judges which means that each judge has his or her separate courtroom.
THE DATE THE CASE WAS FILED WITH THE ADAMS COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS: 01D01-1801
After the Court Identifier, there is a dash and then a number of 4 digits. The first two numbers are the year and the second two numbers are the month. The Clerks of Courts were not concerned with the particular date of the filing.
THE TYPE OF CASE THAT WAS FILED:
In our example, the type of case is an INFRACTION. Generally speaking, an infraction is the designation that the Clerks of Courts give to a case that begins with a ticket or citation being issued. In other words, it does not begin with an arrest where you have been detained, handcuffed and booked at the County Jail.
The most common Letter Designations that are used by the Clerks of Courts for Criminal cases are:
F1 Felony Level 1
F2 Felony Level 2
F3 Felony Level 3
F4 Felony Level 4
F5 Felony Level 5
F6 Felony Level 6
For a complete list of the Letter Designation for different categories of cases, go to:
THE CASE NUMBER ITSELF.
The last set of numbers after the CASE TYPE is simply the specific identifying number for your case. In this example, the CASE NUMBER is 0001. The numbers are simply assigned by the Clerk of Courts in the order that the cases are filed. Consequently, the numbers that are assigned to cases that are filed in January are “smaller” than the numbers that are assigned in December.
SO . . . WHAT CAN I DO WITH THIS INFORMATION?
It has been my experience that a client who is up to date with what is going on with his or her case is an informed client. Clients that keep themselves informed are usually good assets for the attorney because they care about what is occurring, they consider options and possibilities that their attorney doesn’t consider and they show they have their head in the game. In other words, an engaged client is not just an asset for justice over all, but more importantly for him or herself.
HOW CAN YOU STAY INFORMED ABOUT YOUR CASE?
To pull up your case, check the Counties below and either Go to mycase.in.gov or doxpop.com. Simply enter your unique cause number and review the entries that have been made in the record of your case by the Clerk of Courts. If you see something that you do not understand or which appears to be inaccurate, call your attorney and gain more information that will help you to understand where you stand.
Adams County NO Y
Allen County Y Y
Blackford County Y Y
Dekalb County Y Y
Elkhart County Y Y
Fulton County Y Y
Grant County Y Y
Huntington County Y Y
Jay County NO Y
Kosciusko County NO Y
Lagrange County NO Y
Marshall County Y Y
Miami County NO Y
Noble County NO Y
Steuben County Y Y
St. Joseph County Y Y
Wabash County NO Y
Wells County NO Y
Whitley County NO Y
If you have questions about a matter that is pending before a court in either Indiana or Ohio, get in contact with Matt. He will be help you in any way that he can. Call him at 260-387-6236, visit his website at www.mattchapellaw.com or email him at [email protected]