When the Obama administration was still in the White House, it sought to reduce the penalties for convictions of minor drug offenses, and even granted clemency to a record number of prisoners serving exorbitant sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. While this is good news for those facing drug crimes, there is no guarantee that this kind of attitude will continue with the new presidential administration, as every administration creates its own criminal policy.
Anyone charged with possession of drugs, either for personal use or with an intent to sell, should understand the different defense strategies that are available to them. An experienced legal attorney may give the defendant the best chance for a favorable outcome.
Was the search and seizure lawful?
The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantees every citizen the right to due process under the law. This means that any evidence found during a search and seizure could be thrown out by a judge if it was not obtrained lawfully.
Issues surrounding the legality of a search and seizure most often develop in cases where illicit drugs are seized during a traffic stop. If the drugs were sitting in “plain view,” such as on the seat or on the center console, they may be seized; however, if the drugs were found after opening the car with a crowbar, this would a lawful warrant, and the evidence could be thrown out without one.
Did the drugs belong to another person?
It is a common defense maneuver to claim that the drugs simply belonged to someone else, and that the defendant had no idea that the drugs were in their home, car or apartment. While this may sound like a weak defense, an experienced defense attorney could force the prosecution to come up with evidence that the drugs actually belonged to the defendant and not one of the other people in the vicinity at the time.
Are the drugs actually drugs?
Another strategy the defense could use is to order a crime lab analysis of the drugs. Sometimes, substances that look like illicit drugs aren’t actually illicit drugs after a molecular analysis performed by an experienced chemist. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and they will need to make sure that the substances are processed properly by the lab. Only after the lab returns a positive result on the substance can the case actually move forward. Furthermore, issues surrounding the validity of the test results can be raised as well.
Ultimately, these are only a few of the many tactics that a defense attorney could employ on behalf of an individual facing charges of drug possession. For this reason, it is important to partner with an experienced legal attorney who can parse the facts of the case and come up with a defense strategy that maximizes the opportunity for success.