Legal Tips and Resources
Drug possession is a hot topic in the media today. Everyone is talking about mandatory minimums, fighting the war on drugs, or the legalization of marijuana in certain states. It has brought drug crimes to the forefront of people’s minds. Over 1.6 million (http://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/drug-war-statistics) people were arrested in 2017 for drug law violations. With all the attention it is getting, is it possible to present a solid criminal defense strategy against a drug possession charge? Here are three ways your attorney can help you fight a drug possession charge in court if you decide to plead not guilty.
Unlawful search and seizure
One of the most common defense against a drug possession charge is unlawful search and seizure. This means, did the police officer that made the arrest do everything by the book when he was arresting the defendant? According to the Fourth Amendment, everyone has the right to due process which means a legal search and seizure. The police officer must have probable cause before they can search your person or your property.
For example, if late one Saturday night the defendant drives through a legal traffic stop (the police were checking for drunk drivers) with the illegal drugs sitting in plain view on the front seat of the car and the police see them, then they legally have the right to arrest you for possession and can search your vehicle. However, if at that same stop the drugs were locked in the trunk of the car and the police officer forcefully opens the trunk without permission, this is unlawful search and seizure. Anything that the police officer finds during his or her search would be inadmissible in court and the drug charges are usually dropped.
Present the drugs in question
A good drug offenses attorney DC offers knows to ask the prosecution to present the actual drugs in evidence. While this sounds risky, it actually can be really brilliant. Seized drugs tend to make their way around the police station or transferred to other stations before being put into the evidence locker. This gives the drugs a lot of opportunities to be misplaced. If the prosecution can’t present the actual drugs that the defendant is being charged with being in possession of, then it’s harder to make a conviction.
Not my drugs
Another common strategy used is to simply state the drugs are not the defendants. This is a common defense for any crime, but it’s particularly hard to prove that the drugs were, in fact, the defendant’s if say he was in the car with three of his friends. Just because he was driving his car doesn’t mean the drugs were actually his. The prosecution has to prove that the defendant was the one possessing the drugs and that they weren’t someone else’s.
Because of the sheer quantity of drug possession cases in the United States, there are a number of different criminal defense options that have been tried and worked. Many times drug cases fall off the priority list of the prosecutor and if you are persistent with the amount of documentation and paperwork proving your innocence, you could have a chance at getting the charges dropped altogether.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and drug possession.