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6 common defenses to drug possession charges

The police say they found illegal drugs in your possession, or prescription drugs you don’t have the right to. They say they have you dead to rights, so you might as well confess.

Readers who ever find themselves in this situation someday should remember that police and prosecutors are interested in getting as many drug convictions as they can. Beyond the Miranda warning, it is not their job to inform you of your legal rights, or reveal where they may have violated those rights during the investigation or arrest process.

This is why having a defense attorney is vital. He or she will examine the evidence against you and uncover anything that could be used as a defense to charges of drug possession.

Viable defenses to possession charges include:

  • Unlawful search and seizure by the police under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
  • The drugs belonged to someone else
  • The crime lab that analyzed the allegedly illicit substance made an error
  • The drugs were planted on the defendant
  • Police induced the defendant to possess the drugs, or entrapment
  • In states where medical marijuana is legal, the defendant had a prescription to possess marijuana

Government authorities, of course, are unlikely to admit if any of these scenarios are present in an individual case. It is usually up to the defense attorney to uncover evidence of police error or misconduct.

If this evidence exists, it likely will lead to the charges being dropped or reduced, or a not guilty verdict at trial. However, the absence of this sort of evidence does not mean the defendant is sunk necessarily. His or her attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain or otherwise help the client avoid time behind bars.

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