Police in Dallas, Texas, have arrested a 65-year-old man on accusations that he was engaged in illegal drug sales at an auto body shop he owns. They claim undercover officers bought drugs from him 13 times in less than two years. City attorneys also filed a lawsuit seeking the seizure and forfeiture of his business because of the alleged drug sales.
The defendant, according to police, has prior convictions for a number of drug-related offenses. In the most recent arrest, according to police reports, undercover police trying to buy drugs from the defendant at his business had to wait in line to do so. Newspaper accounts recited details of a number of past arrests and accusations against the defendant. Such publicity can often hamper the ability of a criminal defendant to get a fair trial if potential jurors have read such material in the press or in other media sources. Experienced defense attorneys often engaged in detailed questioning of potential jurors in an effort to exclude those with a bias or a predisposition to convict.
Prior offenses are irrelevant to the question of whether an individual has committed the particular crime of which they are accused. Every defendant is entitled to a constitutional presumption of innocence, but making sure that juries respect and obey the law on that is an important task for criminal defense attorneys. A conviction on drug charges can lead to very serious punishments and can sometime lead to collateral consequences, such as loss of a business or other property, loss of employment, eviction from housing or being barred from receiving federal student loans.
Source: DallasNews, "Dallas officials hope to seize business of man with record of dealing drugs" Robert Wilonsky, Aug. 23, 2013