Common Defenses in Drug Possession Cases
If you are charged with drug possession, the government has the burden of proving you were in possession of drugs beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant does not have to prove he/she was not in possession of the illegal drugs. Anyone charged with possession of illegal narcotics has the right to hold the government to the task of proving its case.
In drug possession cases, defense lawyers often work to suppress drug evidence before a trial even starts. If evidence is suppressed, we can may be able to reduce the charges. If evidence is not suppressed, we work to win an acquittal or obtain a good result under the circumstances. We stand ready to appeal when appropriate.
The Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution protects people from illegal searches and seizures. This Amendment also provides that warrants shall not be issues unless there is probable cause. Probable cause must meet the formalities of being given under oath or affirmed – and must describe the people and places to be searched.
If police search a home, a car, your work, or any place, they need to obtain a warrant to conduct the search unless a valid exception applies. Giving consent is one possible exception. Searches may be permissible if the drugs were in plain sight of the officer. If a police officer makes a lawful arrest, then a search “incident” to that law arrest may be permissible. Other exceptions include exigent circumstances where taking the time to get a warrant may be dangerous. It’s generally easier to justify a warrantless search of a home than a vehicle because there’s a greater expectation of privacy in a home.
Don’t assume the police had the right to conduct a search. Criminal defense lawyers understand the relevant Fourth Amendment court decisions and routinely file motions to suppress narcotics evidence on the basis the search was not authorized. For example, if the police claim the search was incident to a lawful arrest, we may challenge the legal basis for the arrest.
The Fifth Amendment protects defendants from self-incrimination. If the police failed to advise you of your legal rights and you said anything about the drugs that were against your interest, asserting a violation of your Fifth Amendment rights is a permissible defense.
Additional drug possession defenses
Other legal and factual defenses include:
- The drugs weren’t yours. The prosecution does need to prove that the person charged was in possession. If you’re in a hotel room with four other people and the police obtain a warrant to search your room, the police still need to show that any narcotics were yours and not one of your four roommates.
- A lack of chain of custody. The prosecution must be able to show how the drugs were handled from the time they were seized through your trial. If the drugs can’t be found or can’t be completely accounted for, then the prosecution’s case should fail. The chain of custody requirement applies to the type of drug and the amount/weight of the drug.
- Police officer misconduct. Sometimes, a police officer will improperly work to prove possession by knowingly planting the drugs in your bag or on your possession. While rare, officer misconduct may be a violation of your due process rights and can be asserted by your criminal defense lawyer.
Which criminal defenses apply depends on the facts of your case. The more the conduct of the police officer or district attorney can be questioned, the better the chances are for a dismissal of the charges, an acquittal, or a plea bargain. To speak with an aggressive Nashville criminal defense lawyer who’s not afraid to challenge the government’s case, please call the Law Office of Perry A. Craft. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at 615-953-3808 or by completing our contact form.
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Perry A. Craft has dedicated his life to helping people in need. He has tried, settled, or resolved numerous civil and criminal cases in State and Federal courts, and has represented teachers and administrators before school boards, administrative judges, and the state Board of Education. Learn more about Attorney Craft.