"A drug arrest on your record has enormous consequences which most prosecutors do not appreciate or relate to."
Ann Toney has been practicing law since 1984 and spent about half her career as a prosecutor. She first served as an Assistant District Attorney in North Carolina, handling felony cases including homicide, drugs, sex offenses, and violent crimes, and then became a prosecutor in Guam where she prosecuted felony sex offense crimes exclusively. From 2000 to 2009, Ann served as deputy district attorney in Colorado, prosecuting felony cases including drug cases, vehicular homicide, sex offenses, and DUI charges, and other misdemeanors.
Ann strived to fulfill the ultimate goal of prosecuting as that of seeking justice. “I was very up-front that I did not feel it was my role to win or lose,” she says. “It was the government’s role to be open about the facts, and if there was evidence there, then it’s there. When I believed a person was a danger to society I would seek a prison sentence and by the same token, I evaluated each case individually and pursued an appropriate disposition protecting the victim and community while being fair to the defendant.”
But as she witnessed, drug crimes permeate the legal system which causes significant and long-term harm to those who are convicted or even just arrested. “A drug arrest on your record has enormous consequences which I do not believe most prosecutors appreciate or relate to,” she says. “Schools, employers, and even apartment complexes all treat people even charged with drug offenses differently, and their lives are never the same.”
As for what keeps the system this way, Ann, who holds a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, believes that it is irrational fear. “Mothers mistakenly believe that if their child smokes marijuana, then he or she will inevitably end up take more serious drugs. I would advise mothers not to buy into propaganda regarding drugs and unintentionally alienate or vilify their children.” As a member of LEAP, Ann works to help people understand that, while drugs can be dangerous, the prohibition laws only serve to increase drug-related harm.
Ann now has her own law practice in Denver.