What Defenses Are Available If You Are Charged with a Drug Offense?

- Dmitry Gurovich

With more and more drugs being legalized throughout the Unites States, you might think that drug crime offenses would be on the decrease, however, they are not. Drug use is soaring and many people are being found in possession of illegal drugs.

Charged with Possession

If you are charged with possession of drugs, either for personal use or with an intent to sell, you will need to seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney in order to determine what defenses might apply to your case.

The federal government tends to have tough drug sentencing guidelines, whereas different states approach the problem of illicit drugs in different ways. Although there might be different sentencing approaches, drug possession defenses are fairly universal across state lines. Some defenses challenge the applicability of the law while others challenge the stated facts, testimony or validity of evidence in the case. Some other approaches are to target procedural errors, often with search and seizure violations; and some defendants argue drug possession charges on the basis of an affirmative defense which means that you have the right to use the drug (e.g. medical marijuana).

Examples of Defenses for Drug Possession Charges

Unlawful Search and Seizure

Search and seizure issues are quite common in drug possession cases. Under the Constitution everyone is guaranteed the right to due process of law, including lawful search and seizure procedures prior to an arrest. Drugs found in “plain view,” may be seized and used as evidence, however, if the drugs were found without the suspect’s permission, they cannot be used as evidence. In short, if the defendant’s rights were violated, then the drugs cannot be used at trial and the charges are typically dismissed.

Deny Ownership of Drugs

A common defense to any drug charge is to simply say that you do not own the drugs. In this scenario, an experienced defense attorney will pressure prosecutors to prove that the drugs found actually belonged to their client and not one of the other witnesses present during the arrest.

Drugs Were Planted or Entrapment

Both of these defenses are difficult to prove, since a police officer’s sworn testimony carries a lot of weight in the courtroom. Law enforcement officials are free to set up sting operations but entrapment occurs when officers or informants induce a suspect to commit a crime they otherwise may not have committed. This situation will very much depend on the specifics of the case and is very rarely successful.

If you’ve been arrested on a drug possession charge, you may have a plausible defense available to you. Our attorneys at Gurovich, Berk & Associates are experienced with dealing with various criminal cases and are able to advise you on all your defense options. We invite you to call us today at (213) 385-1555 to arrange an initial consultation.