First offenders caught with a simple drug possession in Kentucky can get anywhere from 2 to 10 years of jail time. They may also have to pay a fine of up to $20,000. First offenders in California face 15 to 180 days in jail. Those who are charged with possession of Schedule II Controlled Substances face even more serious consequences. For example, possession of any amount of heroin in Washington can result in up to 5 years in prison; less than one gram of cocaine in Texas will land you anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in jail. Some states have a mandatory minimum sentencing for drug laws.
If you’ve been arrested for drug possession, it’s time for you to sit down and re-evaluate your life choices. Consider how you’ve gotten to this place in your life, and be honest with yourself. It’s time to think about whether your ‘seemingly harmless’ drug use that’s ‘totally under control’ has become a full-fledged addiction. If you’ve noticed signs and symptoms of a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s time to consider getting help. There are plenty of different types of addiction treatment programs that can help.
Before you seek addiction treatment, however, you really need to get yourself a lawyer. Depending on whether you were arrested for only drug possession or with an intent to sell, you could be facing very different charges. Get a better idea of what the outcome of your case may be by speaking with defense attorneys at a law firm. If you don’t have the funds of hiring a criminal defense lawyer, you can request for a public defender to represent your case.
Take the charges seriously. Drug arrests can often lead to incarceration. You could be facing a long stretch in jail if you’re convicted of the charges. Remember to remain silent and wait for your attorney to arrive. Sit down with your lawyer to discuss what the best possible outcome for your situation is. Consider the approach you want to take in court and what your chances are. Here are 4 ways that you can fight a charge.
#1. Plea to a Lesser Charge and Get Enrolled in a Diversion Program
In some jurisdictions, those who are caught with small amounts of drugs may plea guilty and get a lesser charge. Instead of jail time, they’ll have to enroll in a diversion program. The program is considered to be a form of rehabilitation. Those who pleaded guilty will also have to pay some fines and court costs.
Once the individual charged with possession finishes the program, the charges are dropped. No conviction will be recorded under the individual’s file. To qualify for this program, one would have to show real effort in getting and staying clean and sober. Those who fail to do so may have to face all of their original criminal penalties, and may even have to pay for the failed treatment plan. The total cost of the failed treatment plan can be quite costly.
To get the charges dropped, have your criminal defense attorneys work out a deal for you. It’s important to note that those charged with a felony drug possession do not qualify for the diversion program. Speak with your attorney to see how serious the charges may be.
#2. Challenge the Chain of Command
If you don’t qualify for the diversion program or are not interested in it, your lawyer will need to fight the case on merit. There are several different ways to achieve this, but the primary way is to prove that the police officers did not have a right to stop you. Law enforcement officers must first have probable cause to justify their search. Without a probable cause, the evidence they collected can be tossed out in court. The police officers must have a valid search warrant if they did not have a probable cause to search.
This is where things can get a bit tricky. You have to determine whether you allowed the law enforcement officer to search you or your home. Many Americans are under the misconception that they must allow police officers to search them, and that they have no choice. This could not be further from the truth. If you did not allow the law enforcement officer to search you or your home, but they still did it anyways, any evidence that they’ve found can be thrown out in court as well. This type of search and seizure is illegal.
#3. Determine Whether “Constructive Possession” Was Established or Not
The police officers must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drug belongs to you. While you may have been in possession of an illegal drug, the drug may not necessarily belong to you. For example, let’s say that you borrowed a car from a friend to go shopping. Before you even get to the shopping mall, you get pulled over by a cop. The law enforcement officer searches the car and finds marijuana. They must then determine that the drugs are yours and not your friend’s. If they can’t, there’s a reasonable doubt that the drugs may not belong to you.
Before any criminal charges can be brought against you, the officers must determine that the drugs are indeed yours. This can be a difficult task to do depending on the circumstances involved.
#4. Argue Whether the ‘Drug’ Really Is A Drug
Another way to fight drug possession charges is to argue whether the drug is indeed the drug that police officers claim it to be. Sometimes, other substances may be mistaken for drugs. For example, spices may look like marijuana at times. Before charging you with marijuana possession, the law enforcement officers must first determine without any doubt that the drug is what they claim it to be. They must be able to prove this in court. It is the police officer’s responsibility to test the suspected substance. Drug testing will determine the actual identity of the substance.
Criminal defense attorneys may want to challenge any lab reports that verify the identity of the drugs. They may also want to see whether the substances were properly tested or whether there are any issues with the drug testing.