Ohio residents reading the newspapers or listening to the news often hear that a certain person or group has been charged with committing a number of crimes and mostly assume that if someone has been charged with committing a crime, they most certainly must have committed it. However, many people are not aware of the process known as criminal charge stacking-the process of adding more criminal charges than is actually fair.
Police officers have a lot of discretion when pressing criminal charges and this ends up in charges that are not substantiated by the facts existing at the time of the arrest. This is quite common when it comes drug crimes, as the crimes of drug trafficking and possession are often conflated together. Arguments such as why would someone have multiple small amounts of drugs if they were not intending to sell it are common in front of jurors and more often than not, they work. The podcast ‘Serial’, focusing its third season on the legal system in Ohio, also brought the matter into the limelight, pointing out that this is often a tactic employed by prosecutors to get defendants to plead down to lesser crimes.
Three Ohio cases demonstrate stacking and its effect on plea bargains. One case involved less than a gram of heroin, another was about 14 grams of cocaine and a third one was for between 10 and 50 grams of heroin. In each instance, drug trafficking charges were either dismissed prior to the trial or during plea negotiations.
Fighting charges that should not have been levied in the first place is a process that requires resources that many people often don’t have. However, having an experienced attorney who sees through these tactics and fights for their client’s rights can be highly beneficial in these circumstances.