Have you been accused of committing a drug offense? If you have, then you need to know how best to protect yourself, especially given the fact that a conviction on drug charges can have serious ramifications. In some instances, you might be facing the possibility of years in prison in addition to extensive fines and damage to your reputation. Your criminal record could even affect your professional license if you possess one. So, taking aggressive action to avoid all penalties, or at least the harshest of those sought by prosecutors, is imperative.
To prepare a strong criminal defense, you need to understand the law or laws that are in play. By doing so, you can look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, which can serve as ammunition during plea negotiations or at trial.
For example, if you’ve been accused with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, then the prosecution needs to prove two elements: possession and intent to distribute. This is no small feat. Merely intending to distribute drugs isn’t enough for a conviction under this law if an individual has yet to acquire any narcotics, and merely possessing narcotics isn’t enough to show an intent to distribute. Of course, the presence of any packaging materials and scales may work against you in supporting a prosecution’s claims that you had intent to distribute, but these cases are highly fact-sensitive.
So what can you do if you are accused of a drug crime? Regardless of whether it’s possession or possession with intent to distribute, consider these criminal defense options:
- Suppress as much evidence as you can: Police officers aren’t above the law. They need to follow applicable statutes when conducting searches or seizures, otherwise any evidence gathered may be deemed “fruit of the poisonous tree,” meaning that it cannot be used against an accused individual in a court of law. Therefore, if a police officer searches a residence without a warrant and without consent, then anything found within the home has been illegally seized. The same holds true when an officer makes an illegal traffic stop or searches a car without probable cause or consent, then any recovered evidence may be deemed inadmissible at trial. This is a strong criminal defense, so you should carefully consider if and how you can utilize it.
- Argue lack of knowledge: In many drug cases, accused individuals are unaware that there were drugs in their vicinity. For example, if you were riding in a car that was stopped and subsequently searched, uncovering a large amount of narcotics, then you might be accused of possessing with intent to distribute. But if you can show that you didn’t know that drugs were in the vehicle, then you might be able to beat the charges levied against you.
- Fight over the amount of drugs in question: In some instances, you might be able to fight over the amount of drugs that were recovered. While this won’t save you from a criminal conviction, it might drop the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor, or from a serious felony to a less serious felony. This can have an enormous impact on the penalties forced upon you.
There’s a lot at stake when facing drug charges. If convicted, our freedom could be stripped from you, leaving you and your family in a dire predicament. These are tough times, but you can get through it. To help you fight aggressive prosecutors, competent criminal defense attorneys stand ready to assess the facts at hand and utilize the law in the most beneficial way to protect accused individual’s interests.