A 58-year-old jazz musician who was facing drug charges in New York after the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has had those charges dropped. The police had claimed that the man supplied the heroin that Hoffman used in his accidental overdose.
The man claims he is innocent and said he never sold drugs to Hoffman. However, the charges were dropped after it was revealed that the two arresting officers did not read him his Miranda rights. Among other things, Miranda rights deal with the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. Because the officers failed to do this, the man’s statements at the time of his arrest were inadmissible.
The man did plead guilty to heroin possession, and he will serve five years’ probation along with performing community service and attending drug addiction treatment. He also had to give up the cash that was confiscated when he was arrested.
When an individual is facing drug charges, a number of avenues for defense may be available. However, procedure is one of the first things an attorney may examine. If police did not follow proper procedure in detaining a suspect, the case may be dismissed. There may also be issues with the way evidence is gathered and other failures to adhere to legal standards.
However, even if there had not been a problem with the man’s Miranda rights, there might have been other approaches to his defense. For example, he might have pleaded not guilty. The prosecution would need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he had supplied Hoffman with the drugs, and this might have been difficult. Another option might have been making a plea bargain. In a plea bargain, an individual pleads guilty to some charges in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Source: Yahoo! News, “Drug charges dropped against man over Seymour Hoffman’s death: New York Times“, August 29, 2014