It is not easy to make ends meet when you are a young woman with a young child. As a society, we want to see these individuals who are trying to do their best make the most of their situation. Unfortunately, mistakes can happen. In one case, a young mother working multiple jobs to make ends meet agreed to transport crack cocaine from Houston to Dallas for some extra cash. After three trips, police arrested the young woman. Prosecutors encouraged the young woman to agree to a plea deal — to explain how a friend of hers, a fellow police officer, had played a role in the crime. The young woman refused to the deal, stating her friend had nothing to do with the crime and that she would not lie to get a reduced sentence. Instead, she chose to take the case to court.
She chose to represent herself. Although she likely believed the jury would hear her story and agree with her side, she failed to consider the draconian laws that impact sentencing for even relatively minor crimes. Overall, the jury agreed with the woman. They found her not guilty of six of the seven criminal charges but found her guilty of the last.
Next, the case went to the judge. The judge, when determining sentencing, used the federal system developed as a result of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. This resulted in sentences that were significantly more extreme for offenses involve crack cocaine compared to other drugs. Additional points were added against her as she represented herself in court and had a permit for a concealed weapon. After all the factors were added up, she faced a lifetime prison sentence.
She tried various routes to reduce her sentence, but only one was successful. She had to reach out directly to the President of the United States. In order to get out, she needed a grant of clemency. Fortunately, she was one of few that received freedom in this manner.
Others who face similar allegations are wise to learn a very important lesson from this case: even charges for relatively minor amounts of drugs can result in serious, life altering consequences. Do not think you can go it alone. You have options. Legal tools are available to help tailor a defense to your situation and better ensure your rights are protected.