When dealing with cases involving the supply, cultivation or importation of drugs, the issues likely to be involved in your case:
The Classification of Drugs
Mobile Phone Evidence
Cell Site Evidence
The Classification of Drugs
Class A Drugs
Amphetamines (if prepared for Injection)
Class B Drugs
Class C Drugs
Diazepam (unless prescribed by a Doctor)
Police, investigators and the Crown Prosecution service are increasingly reliant on DNA to prove their case. In most instances, DNA will go to prove elements of a case not the entirety of a case. This trend toward ‘forensic science based’ presentation of cases has created a popular perception of certainty of evidence. Criminal defence solicitors need to ensure that they adequately present before the jury that Forensic Evidence does not solve cases:
Forensic evidence is collected by fallible human beings;
It is then provided to other fallible human beings who are told to look for specific things by investigators who already have a pre-conception;
The results are then interpreted and presented by prosecutors whose function it is to prosecute.
Defence solicitors need to alert to the fact that there can be a huge difference between the full genetic profile of a person and the interpretation of forensic evidence from a crime scene in respect of which the prosecution suggest a match.
In many instances, the method of collecting and storing samples can be open to challenge and Evidence based profiles may be incomplete, or a mixture from two or more people.
At first sight, there may be incriminating traces of DNA, but closer analysis may reveal an innocent accidental source. Misidentification can be a real problem for defence teams. Experts’ opinions on DNA interpretation can vary widely. The final report may be weighted and be one sided and may contain comments based solely on what the expert has been told to look for.
If your drugs defence solicitor does not have sufficient eye for detail in ensuring that the entire forensic process was carried correctly, from the collection of DNA by officers at the scene to experts working in the lab, then your case, your defence and you are at the mercy of those fallible humans and expert prosecutors who are trained to secure a conviction.
Over the years, fingerprint evidence has been interpreted as conclusive evidence of touching or presence and is very often unchallenged and defence teams merely accept the findings of so called “experts”. Within the realms of defending drug offences, Criminal defence solicitors should treat all fingerprint evidence with care. Criminal solicitors need to be aware and alive to the issue that experts may have been told what to look for, especially where there is a comparison request. The best criminal defence solicitors will instruct the best defence experts should analyse reports and results checking ridge detail, partial prints and whether and to what extent profiles may have been caused by innocent transfer.
Mobile Phone Evidence
Most serious allegations involving drugs are likely to involve a number of individuals or suspects. Some of these individuals may already be under surveillance, some may be under arrest and some may not be on the police radar.
One of the fastest growing tools used by the police and other investigators is the use of Mobile phone evidence. This is no surprise given the huge expansion of use of mobile phones across the world. The real fact is that your smart phone is “smart” for so many reasons and investigators would love to get hold of all the information that it holds and can lead them to.
The use of mobile phone evidence is virtually part and parcel of every allegation of conspiracy to do supply drugs, conspiracy to import drugs and many of the other offences involving drugs possession, supply and importation.
Even where the Crown prosecution service or other prosecuting authority have been unable to adduce any direct evidence from mobile phone interrogation, we can guarantee that they have at least tried. Even where no direct evidence is found or used, it is highly likely that the interrogation of the mobile phone has led to other lines of enquiry.
The primary reason why mobile phone evidence is so crucial to the police, the crown prosecution service and other authorities when dealing with any allegation involving the possession of controlled drugs, the possession with intent to supply controlled drugs or the importation of controlled drugs, is because the essential element of the offence of conspiracy is evidence of an agreement with others to commit an offence. The police, the crown prosecution service or other authority will try and demonstrate the existence of this agreement from mobile phone evidence.
The police and the prosecution will invite the jury to look at all the surrounding circumstances as evidence of the agreement. In the majority of cases, this will usually involve demonstrating the contact by mobile phone or text message between suspects or defendants and the timing and frequency of those calls or text.
Criminal Defence solicitors and teams need to be alert when dealing with mobile phone evidence as taking a broad brush approach can be very dangerous.
Make Sure the Prosecution can Prove Which Phone Belongs to Whom
In the event that phones are seized during the course of an investigation, the police will need to track the “owner” of the phone or number. This is not so much of a problem when the phone is seized directly from a suspect on arrest or from a suspect’s car or home address.
This would be the first part of the puzzle. In order for the police to establish evidence that others are involved and to either track those others or implicate them, they would have to show that the suspect has been in phone contact with another suspect.
They would typically interrogate the phone and produce a list of calls, text messages and contacts list from that phone. They could then trace all of those other numbers. If the other numbers have a contract plan, then this would be easy. Network providers would be obliged to provide the police with details of the owner of the contract.
Where the phone is a Pay as you go, this can prove slightly (only slightly) more difficult for the police.
The easiest situations for the police are where there are incriminating text messages on the phone or where other known suspects are stored in the contacts list of the phone in question.
Cell Site Evidence
The police, the crown prosecution service and other prosecuting authorities have increasingly used Cell Site Analysis to show the physical movements of a mobile phone. The assumption being that a suspect was with the mobile phone and by analogy, the prosecution will suggest that they can show the whereabouts of a suspect and their movements.
Needless to say, the prosecution will suggest that this is compelling evidence in showing the whereabouts of each suspect, proximity to a scene of a crime and the patterns of movement of individual suspects and testing the strength or reliability of alibi evidence.
Criminal defence solicitors themselves should not be slow in testing the conclusions within a cell site report, and should always consider obtaining their own cell site evidence to support a defence case or to weaken the prosecution case. For example, where the prosecution suggest that you were at the scene of a pickup, cell site evidence may be obtained to show that you were miles away.
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