Whether you are caught with
cannabis, cocaine, or even medication without a doctor’s prescription,
drug possession is a serious offense in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. Any
amount of an illicit substance can result in criminal conviction, punishable
by a lengthy jail sentence, expensive fines, and other harsh penalties.
Furthermore, having a permanent criminal record of the drug charge can
make it challenging to get a job, apply for school, and find housing.
If you have been arrested for drug possession, you need to hire a criminal
defense attorney to protect your rights and future. Your lawyer can investigate
your case, analyze evidence collected by law enforcement, and determine
the best defense strategies to either get your case dismissed altogether
or reduce the penalties you face.
The following are the five most common defenses for drug possession:
- The drugs do not belong to you – Claiming the drugs aren’t yours or belong to someone else
is another way of saying you didn’t commit any crime. This could
occur if you were driving another person’s car and a police officer
finds a joint on the floor of the vehicle. Another example is when you
are pulled over with multiple people and the police charge you with drug
possession, even though you didn’t have actual possession.
- Unlawful search and seizure – According to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every
American citizen is guaranteed the right to due process of law such as
lawful search and seizure. While narcotics in plain sight can be confiscated
and used as evidence against you, law enforcement needs to have your consent
or a warrant to search your vehicle. If the police violate your constitutional
rights, your case will most likely be dismissed.
- Inaccurate lab results – Sometimes, what appears to be an illicit substance is actually
not. Oregano and rosemary can be mistaken for marijuana, while powdery
substances appear to look like cocaine. Police officers are required to
take confiscated drugs to a crime lab, where an analyst tests the substances
and then provides testimony in court. If the drugs aren’t what they
appear to be, then the charges will be dropped.
- Missing drugs – Prosecutors must produce the actual drugs to support their argument
against the defendant. However, from arrest to the court, there are multiple
parties who handle the evidence. If a prosecutor loses or fails to produce
the actual drugs, the case will be dismissed.
- Police misconduct – From entrapment to planting drugs, there are several ways officers
abuse their power to make an arrest. If you were the victim of police
misconduct, not only will your case be dismissed, by the arresting officers
will be held responsible and reprimanded for their inappropriate behavior.