Non-Violent First-Time Drug Offender Receives Life Sentence in Texas

Posted on May 28, 2012 at 12:02pm by

A first-time non-violent drug offender is serving a life sentence in Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle. Elisa Castillo was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States from Mexico when she was 56 years old. Castillo was accused of being a manager in a drug smuggling conspiracy, although she was never accused of handling the drugs herself.

Others who were charged in the same conspiracy were able to strike deals with the prosecution. Castillo, lacking options and information to provide to the prosecutors, was given a maximum sentence. Castillo has consistently maintained her innocence. She claims she was tricked into unknowingly transporting drugs across the border, which is why she never plead guilty and went to trial.

“Our criminal justice system is broke; it needs to be completely revamped,” said Terry Nelson, board member of the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “They have the power, and if you don’t play the game, they’ll throw the book at you.”

Castillo is a grandmother who has never touched a drug in her life. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has identified her as a casualty of the war on drugs on its website, describing the sentence as “draconian.”

“Information is a cooperating defendant’s stock in trade, and if you don’t have any…chances are you won’t get a good deal,” says former prosecutor Mark W. White III.

Lesson learned—if you are facing possession of drug charges, even if you are completely innocent, you better take it seriously and contact an experienced attorney.

Law Office of Christine Harris—Dallas criminal defense attorney.

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