The law is often complex, so when facing a legal challenge, it is imperative that you have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney at your side who can navigate your complex legal issue. If your issue is dealing with the authorities, speak with us, not them. Every word that you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
A recent maritime drug case underscores the importance of properly strategizing with your attorney before you speak with law enforcement. The events, which occurred only a few years ago, led to a problematic ending.
The facts of the Simms case that happened in May of 2016 are as follows: the United States Coast Guard received word that a ship moving in the Caribbean was carrying cocaine and other illegal drugs. The Coast Guard ship Hiton first sent a helicopter on a reconnaissance mission to determine if it could see what the ship was doing.
The reconnaissance mission reported that the ship had a grey hull and was moving very quickly in the water. Its lights were out and seemed to be speeding away from something. The Coast Guard, using this information, decided to investigate further.
Shortly afterward, the Coast Guard caught the ship’s attention and had it slow down. The Coast Guard received permission to enter the ship, which was a small boat manned by six men. The Coast Guard asked the men to identify themselves, which they did. The Coast Guard then asked the men whether there was cocaine or other illegal substances onboard. The men answered affirmatively. The Coast Guard then arrested the men and brought them in for a sworn statement.
At trial, the men acknowledged that they provided the Coast Guard with a sworn statement. The District Court then sentenced the men to prison terms for transporting illegal substances with the intent to distribute.
One of the men, Simms, pleaded that the Appellate Court should overturn the conviction, reasoning that the men were not transporting illegal substances at the time. specifically, he claimed that the men threw all possibly illegal substances overboard, so the statement that the ship contained illegal substances when the Coast Guard boarded was incorrect.
The Appellate Court, citing the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, dismissed the argument. The Appellate Court noted, based on the Rules, that the men stated certain facts under oath and without coercion. In fact, the men clearly stated that they were providing details without such coercion. Because they provided unequivocal statements and admissions of guilt, there is nothing new that has come to light. As such, there are no grounds for overturning the ruling and amending the pleading.
The results of this case emphasize the need for strong legal representation when dealing with a maritime case. You are only guilty of a crime if you committed the crime as stated in the statute. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer will help you determine a strategy for a strong defense.
Involved in maritime business? Contact the Kolodny law firm, experienced maritime attorneys.
(image courtesy of clem-onojeghuo)