Defenses to Drug Possession Charges
If you plead not guilty to a criminal charge, you cannot be punished for the crime unless the jury is certain beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. It is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove that you are guilty. Your responsibility as a defendant is only to make the jury doubt that it is true. Of course, it is your word against the prosecution’s. You do not have to make the jury 100% sure that you are innocent, only that you might not have done what you said or that the prosecution violated one or more of your legal rights by accusing you. These are some common reasons that people get wrongly accused of drug possession. A Red Bluff, California drug crimes defense lawyer can help you decide which defense makes the most sense in your case.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
Defendants in criminal cases have the constitutional right to due process at every stage of their cases. For example, the police do not have the right to search your property without a warrant, and they cannot obtain a search warrant without probable cause. The vehicle exception means that police can search your car without a warrant, but not without probable cause. Many times, police at traffic stops search people’s vehicles for drugs for petty, if not downright illegal, reasons. If you think that it was unfair for the police to search your car, it probably was, and this is a valid defense in court.
The Substance Was Not an Illegal Drug
The field tests that police use to test suspected drugs that they find at traffic stops are notoriously unreliable. If the white powder turns the pink liquid in the vial blue, the police say that it is an illegal drug, and they arrest you. Of course, the false positive rate is very high. You might think that clearing your name is as easy as waiting for the lab to test the substance confiscated from your car, but the crime labs that test the substances used as evidence in drug cases are not exactly designed with defendants in mind. Mix-ups are disturbingly common, and sometimes the backlogs are long. Don’t let the prosecution bully you into pleading guilty just because an unscientific field test said that the substance in your possession was an illegal drug.
The Drug Was Legally Prescribed to You
Prescription drug abuse accounts for a large percentage of drug possession cases, but not everyone who has a few suboxone tablets in the glove compartment of their car or a few Vicodin pills in their backpack is breaking the law. If you can show that you were taking the drugs as prescribed to you by a doctor, you can win your case.
The Drugs Belonged to Someone Else
Another defense that some defendants can use is that the substance was an illegal drug, but it does not belong to the defendant. For example, if the police found drugs in your car, you can argue that the drugs belonged to a friend who previously rode in the car. If you live with housemates, you can argue that the bag of drugs in the kitchen drawer belonged to them.
Gregg Cohen is a Northern California criminal defense lawyer with experience working as a prosecutor. Gregg can help you fight your drug possession charges.