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5 Defenses for Drug Possession

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For more information about drug possession defense in Pennsylvania, contact our Scranton criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of William D. Thompson today.