A drug possession charge is scary. It’s easy to assume that police have caught you red-handed, since accusations result from finding drugs on or near you. You can, however, fight these allegations. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. No criminal accusation is flawless, even if the police claim that you were holding something illegal in your hands.
Here are some ways you can challenge possession charges in court.
You Are Not the Owner of the Drugs
Just because you were found with drugs on your person, that does not mean they belong to you. Intent is an important part of any criminal prosecution. Convicting someone simply on a technicality is often not a strong case. Here are some ways that you can credibly argue that the drugs did not belong to you.
In this defense, you argue that you weren’t aware of the drugs to begin with. Perhaps you were pulled over while driving a friend’s car. The police search the vehicle, finding narcotics in the glove compartment. This is a case of “unwitting possession.” You were completely unaware of the presence of the drugs, and you should not be held accountable for their possession.
Lack of Possession
In this argument, you explain that even though you were near the drugs, they were not yours. You could have been aware of their presence, but that doesn’t make you the owner. Imagine the police find you and four of your friends sitting around a coffee table with cocaine on it. You are all arrested for possession. This evidence, however, can still be challenged in court.
What if you had just arrived at the party, and the drugs were already there? What if your friend pulled out the cocaine, offered you some, and you declined? How, exactly, do the police know that you were involved with the possession or use of those drugs? Questions like these can poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
Question the Authorities’ Methods
By law, both local and federal, police must follow strict standards when building a case. It is important to question their methods, no matter what the charge. If they are guilty of going beyond their legal reach, the entire case could be invalidated.
Accusing an Abuse of Power
Police can be guilty of overstepping their bounds in a variety of ways. Perhaps they have a legitimate charge against someone, but they plant evidence to make their accusation stronger. Maybe they searched a property illegally or went beyond the stipulations of their search warrant. They could be guilty of illegal surveillance or any number of questionable methods. If you are accused of drug possession, make sure your lawyer thoroughly investigates how police found their evidence and whether they had nefarious motives. If an abuse of power is discovered, the case could be dismissed.
Challenging Plain View
Imagine the police are legally raiding a home, looking for stolen money. When they arrive, they find a dead body by the door and a man holding a bloody knife. Even though they were not there for a murder case, the evidence is right before them, in “plain view,” and they can make an arrest. The same is true for the presence of drugs. Police may be inside a residence on an unrelated matter, but if drugs are immediately visible, they can make a possession arrest.
However, police do not have the right to go outside the boundaries of a warrant. Warrants are very specific about their purpose, and they limit an officer’s search area. If a warrant, for instance, gives police the right to search your garage, then they have no business going into the home searching the bathroom. If the evidence against you was found through an illegal search, it can be stricken from your case.
Remember that entrapment is not the same thing as a sting operation. Police have the right to fabricate a scenario, tempting criminals into committing a crime. They are allowed to lie about being police, even if you directly ask them. Essentially, if police believe that you are already guilty of purchasing drugs, they can create a situation where they offer to sell to you. If you take the offer, they can use this against you, and this is not considered entrapment.
Entrapment is about grooming you into committing a crime. Perhaps you have never had experience in the drug world, but an undercover officer approaches you with an opportunity. The more you turn them down, the more they sweeten the deal. By pressuring, enticing, and coercing you into committing a crime, they may be guilty of entrapment.
If you’ve been accused of drug possession, contact our office today. We can give you a free consultation, and we may be able to immediately start working on your defense. Call (540) 827-4446, or contact us online.