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Potential defense strategies in drug possession cases

It can happen out of the blue without warning. Suddenly, you are arrested on charges of drug possession. Some in this situation may be interested in the potential criminal defenses that can be used in court. Below are some defenses that have been successfully used in the past.

-- The search and/or seizure wasn't legal. In America, our Fourth Constitutional Amendment guarantees that we have the right to legal due process, which means that searches and seizures must be legally conducted before an arrest is made. For example, illegal drugs that are in "plain view," perhaps laying on the passenger seat next to the driver in a traffic stop, are fair game to be seized as evidence. However, drugs discovered in a locked car trunk after cops pry it open after the driver denies them consent to search would not be considered to be legally obtained.

-- They're not my drugs. Any self-respecting teenager who has ever been accused by a parent of having drugs on them has attempted to float this one by his or her mom or dad. But when your accuser has a gun and a badge, the stakes are quite a bit higher. Depending on the circumstances, the defense can be viable.

A skillful defense attorney can make the prosecution definitively prove that the bag of marijuana found in a car with four people belongs to his or her client instead of one of the others in the car that day.

-- Analysis by a criminal laboratory. Because many substances look like illegal drugs, and many illegal drugs look like one another, it is necessary for the prosecution to analyze the seized substance and have it analyzed. Then, the analyst must be present to testify at court.

-- Drugs that go missing after seizure. Many breaches can occur in the chain of evidence from the seizure to transfer to storage. An ounce of cocaine can inexplicably wind up a little over a half-ounce, or the seal may be broken on the container that holds the evidence. These breaches can cause drug cases to be dismissed by the court.

To present the most effective defense, work closely with your defense attorney to examine all avenues available to you.

Source: findlaw.com, "Drug Possession Defenses," accessed April. 30, 2015

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