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Student can withdraw guilty plea for community service in drug case

In some situations, it is better to work with a prosecutor or judge than going through a trial. The only way to know this, however, is to work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately after Maryland or Washington, D.C., police make you a suspect. Because of the serious nature of many drug crimes, pleading guilty without consulting an attorney could land you behind bars for years, paying a large fine or dealing with an unfavorable criminal record. Luckily for a 21-year-old college student who was arrested and charged with an alleged prescription drug crime was able to get a satisfying plea deal.

The student was one of five arrested last year for allegedly selling drugs on Ivy League campuses, though the drugs were his own legal prescription of Adderall. It seems the young man was prescribed the drug for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The investigation took officers five months to uncover, spending more than $10,000 to buy drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana and candy laced with LSD from the other suspects.

After the man gave his guilty plea, the judge said if he completes 300 hours of community service within one year, he can withdraw the plea and plead to a misdemeanor charge. The suspect has agreed, and according to his attorney, will continue living in New York and begin volunteering for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The 21-year-old also hopes to reenroll in school and continue his education.

The suspect's attorney said they are happy with the outcome, and that it was appropriate because the drugs were legal, unlike the drugs the others sold.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Columbia Student Jose Perez Pleads Guilty in Drug Case," Chris Dolmetsch, Dec. 23, 2011

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