State v. A.G. — Felony Drug Possession Dismissed in St. Charles County, Missouri

Oftentimes when drivers are stopped the police often ask to search your car. Most people say yes out of fear that saying no makes them look guilty of something, even if they know the police will find drugs or something else illegal. Advice from a Missouri criminal lawyer: always be polite and politely say no, do not answer any questions, and ask for your lawyer. Don’t admit to anything and don’t try to explain anything. There is a very good reason that the law of the land is that “you have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be used against you.

If you ever stopped for a DWI, your car will be searched. One of our clients was stopped at a DWI checkpoint, and the next she knows is that her car is being searched and she is under arrest for illegal possession of drugs. Three felony charges fro prescription medication and over the counter medication in her possession. Most people are not aware, but it is illegal to possess a prescription drug that is either not yours or not in the prescription bottle. This is often not enforced, however, when stopped for a DWI it will be.

After close to a year of legal work,  the St. Louis criminal attorneys at our firm got the charges dismissed. See Felony drug charges Dismissed or the legal Latin term for dismissed, Nolle Prosequi, literally meaning “be unwilling to pursue” a phrase amounting to “do not prosecute” or “dismissed”.

The dismissal of 3 felony charges was the result of a legal defense focusing on probable cause and the State’s ability to prove that the drugs found were illegally possessed by the driver. Many pills were found some containing amphetamine  according to the criminal lab reports. Our case was won by arguing the pills may have been legally possessed prescription medication or over the counter drugs. For example, many cold medicines have psuedoephedrine in them, that is why they are behind the counter and you can only buy so much a month, to prevent methamphetamine manufacturing form the ingredients.

The probable cause statement lists drugs found. Among these items is “Item E” described as “(19 white round tablets ‘[scored]‘) disclosed ephedrine stereoisomer”. The method of determining that these tablets contained or “disclosed” ephedrine stereoisomer was not stated. The probable cause statement has no other details about these drugs or prescription medicines found in the car.

Ephedrine has two chiral carbon atoms (carbon atoms at which there are two mirror image or “left-handed” and “right-handed” forms which are otherwise identical). With two chiral carbon atoms with two forms each, there are four different stereoisomers of ephedrine. Two are ephedrine, and two are pseudoephedrine. All four share the same chemical formula, except for the orientation of the two chiral carbon atoms.

Retail sale of ephedrine is permissible under Missouri Revised Statutes (Section 195.418) in packages of not more than 3 grams, and possession of either ephedrine or pseudoephedrine is only illegal when the quantity exceeds 24 grams (RSMo Section 195.246). Retail sale of pseudoephedrine is permissible without prescription as a “behind-the-counter” product (RSMo Section 195.017 subsection 11).

Because the largest available tablet size for pseudoephedrine is 240 mg and the most common tablet size for pseudoephedrine is 30 mg, the minimum number of tablets needed to exceed the statutory limit in one’s possession is 100 ofthe 240 mg extended release tablets or 600 of the 30 mg immediate release tablets.

Additionally, a urine test was done which showed amphetamine in the driver’s system. The amphetamine present reflects prescription use of amphetamine such as Adderall ®. The urine testing specifically proves that methamphetamine and other illicit amphetamine derivatives were not present. Phentermine (a prescription weight loss drug) is closely related to amphetamine and can cause false positive urine drug screens for amphetamine, but gas chromatography with mass spectroscopy (GC/MS) should be able to recognized phentermine as a separate compound.

Based on the above scientific arguments, the prosecutor had no choice but to dismiss the felony charges against my client. This was a very successful case as my client was wanting to take a plea deal out of fear that fighting the charges could lead to worse punishment. Glad to have such a brave client to let us fight these charges and get them dismissed just 1 month before trial.