If you are facing charges for drug possession, it's important that you not only understand what the charges really mean, but also what your options are for defending yourself in court. It's in your best interest to work with a drug attorney, but you should also know how you can take an active role in the process. Here's a look at what drug possession charges entail and what you'll need to do to defend yourself in court.
Understanding Possession Charges
Charges of drug possession, typically listed as possession of a controlled substance, can range in severity from a misdemeanor to a felony. If law enforcement adds an additional charge of intent for distribution, you'll be facing the potential for significant jail time. In fact, some states automatically include an assumption of distribution intent if your possession is over a certain amount.
What Are Your Defense Options?
There are several options available for drug charge defense, but the best option will depend on the severity of the charges and the situation. Here's a look at several options that you can discuss with your drug attorney.
The United States Constitution's Fourth Amendment defines the expectations for lawful search by law enforcement. If the drugs confiscated by the officer were out in the open, where the officer could see them without any attempt at search, this defense won't apply. But, if the officer searched the trunk of your car without your authorization or a search warrant, you may be able to have the evidence dismissed. This type of search is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, and anything obtained as a result cannot be used as evidence in court.
Search Warrant Issues
In many cases, drug charges come after law enforcement has searched your house, car or business. In order to conduct this search, law enforcement must have a search warrant with them. There are a few situations where you can claim the search warrant to be invalid.
If you can prove that the warrant was issued without probable cause, you may be able to get the evidence thrown out. Similarly, if you can show that the information used to obtain the warrant was obtained under misleading circumstances or received from an unreliable source, you can contest the validity of the warrant.
Product Mistaken for Drugs
Sometimes, charges can be filed for drug possession without an independent verification that the substance in question is actually the drug that it is believed to be. If the substance isn't actually a drug, you can request a crime lab assessment to prove its actual, legal composition.
Drugs Were Not Yours
If the drugs don't actually belong to you, this is an important approach to your defense. If you live in a house with several other roommates, you may be able to claim that the drugs found belonged to someone else in the house. Then, it will be up to the prosecution to prove without a doubt that it was yours.
Evidence in many criminal cases, particularly drugs, will be transferred from the police department to the evidence lockup to the lab and back again. When it changes hands so many times, there's always a risk that it could be misplaced. Don't always assume that just because the trial is continuing, the evidence exists. Have your defense attorney request that the prosecution produce the evidence at trial. If the drugs were lost, there's no evidence to produce and therefore no foundation for the charges.
Drug charges can be a difficult thing to face, particularly when there's uncertainty about whether you will face jail time or just probation. Talk with a drug attorney from places like Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm PA who can help you evaluate these defense options and choose the best one for your case.