A conviction for
drug possession can result in harsh penalties, such as a lengthy jail/prison term, fines,
and a permanent criminal record. The severity of the punishment depends
on the type of drug, the amount involved, and your previous criminal history.
If you have been arrested for drug possession, one of the most important
steps to take is to hire an experienced
criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court and protect your rights. Your attorney
can assess your case, identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s
argument, and build a strong defense strategy to either get your case
dismissed altogether or your charges/penalties reduced.
Here are the most common legal defenses for drug possession charges:
You do not own the drugs – Commonly known as the “unwitting possession” defense,
you may claim you had no idea the drugs were in your possession. For instance,
you borrowed your friend’s car to run errands but then the police
pull you over and discover drugs in the vehicle. Since you were unaware
the drugs were in the car, you cannot be held liable for possessing drugs.
Another common defense is “lack of possession,” which applies
to situations where you get pulled over with several other people or your
roommate allows the police to search your home without your presence.
If the prosecution cannot prove that the drugs are actually yours, you
cannot be convicted of the crime.
Unlawful search and seizure – In order for law enforcement to search your vehicle or your home,
they must obtain either your consent, probable cause, or a warrant to
do so. If they continue to perform a search without establishing one of
these elements, it is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights against
unlawful search and seizure. Any evidence collected from an illegal search
can be thrown out of court by filing a motion to suppress. Without the
drugs in question, the prosecution doesn’t have a case.
Entrapment – The police set up sting operations to catch criminals in the act
in order to make a valid arrest. However, entrapment occurs when an officer
or informant pressures a person to commit a crime he/she otherwise may
not have done. For example, a disguised officer forces you to purchase
drugs from him/her, it is considered entrapment.
The drugs aren’t actually what they appear to be – Once the police seize the drugs, they often send the evidence
to the crime lab for analysis. Upon obtaining the results, the crime lab
analyst must show their findings in court. If the test results determine
the substance in question are not actually illegal drugs, then the case
will be dismissed.
Our Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyers at
Appel & Morse understand what it takes to get the best possible results. For more information,
contact us and schedule a free consultation today.