Drug Possession Defenses: Possible Approaches Your Lawyer Might Take
Being arrested for any kind of crime is the worst nightmare of many. But in 2016, there were 1,186,810 arrests in the U.S. for drug law violations alone. That means that being arrested for drug possession charges may be a bit more likely than you'd think. And for many Americans, being caught with drugs -- or even being wrongfully charged with possession -- just once can have a profound effect on their future. That's why it's so important to find an attorney with experience in this area to ensure your rights are protected. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may be able to argue different defenses for the charges being brought against you. You may find it helpful to familiarize yourself with these possible defenses before going to trial or to ensure you've secured reputable legal representation.
- Unlawful Search and Seizure: One possible defense against drug charges is illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment says that you have a right to due process -- and that includes protection against searches and seizures of evidence that may not have been obtained illegally. Although any illegal substances found in plain view may be admissible in court, drugs found in your trunk or elsewhere in your vehicle may not be if you didn't grant permission to officers to search. Your lawyer may be able to argue that your rights were violated as a result, which would make it impossible for any drugs found in this way to be used as evidence against you.
- Unwitting Possession: If drugs were found in your possession but you didn't actually know they were there, you may want to find an attorney who can argue an unwitting possession defense. For example, if someone planted drugs in your vehicle or gave you a bag that, unbeknownst to you, contained illegal substances, your lawyer could argue that you shouldn't be held liable for possession. This defense could also be used in situations wherein police found drugs in an individual's apartment or car, but that the drugs do not belong to that individual and that they have no knowledge about them being there. This may not always be the easiest defense to argue, of course, particularly if other evidence suggests otherwise.
- Misidentification of Controlled Substance: It's possible that the "drugs" found in your home or car aren't actually what police believe them to be. What looks like a street drug or cocaine could actually be something totally legal. Your lawyer can request that these substances be sent to a crime lab for analysis to assess whether you can even be charged with this crime in the first place. The crime lab analyst will have to testify as to whether the substance is truly illegal and that it's been correctly identified.
- Entrapment or Duress: If you are somehow forced to commit a drug-related crime you would otherwise not commit -- say, if you are coerced into buying drugs in a situation involving an undercover cop or you were ordered to hold or carry drugs at gunpoint for someone else -- you may need to find an attorney who can argue duress or entrapment. There are very specific laws involving entrapment, so you'll definitely need to find an attorney with the experience and knowledge required to argue this defense if you feel it rings true to your situation.
Your attorney may argue any number of legal defenses to ensure your rights are protected in a court of law. If you have specific questions about charges that you or a loved one might be facing, please contact our law firm today.