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What are potential defenses against drug possession charges?

Drug charges often carry severe penalties, therefore, those accused of such crimes frequently seek to either clear their name or reduce the charges he or she is facing. Whether it is based on presumed personal use or the intent to sell, drug possession charges could greatly impact the personal and professional life of the accused, even if it is the first time he or she is charged. Because of that, it is important to note some possible defenses against this charge.

What are potential defenses against drug possession charges? While defenses are dependent on the state and the circumstances surrounding the charge, there are seven types of defenses used against charges related to drug possession.

One major defense is unlawful search and seizure. Because the Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures, defendants could cite this constitutional amendment. However, in cases where drugs were in plain view and seized during a lawful traffic stop, defendants most likely will not be able to claim their Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

Next, a defendant could assert that the drugs discovered and apprehended did not belong to them. A defendant could claim that the drugs are not theirs and they did not know they were in their possession. This could occur when an individual is borrowing a vehicle and was not aware of the contents within the vehicle.

Defendants could also seek a crime lab analysis in order to prove that the substance is not what authorities claim it is. He or she could also claim missing drugs. If a defendant asks the prosecutor to produce the actual drugs seized and they cannot be, it should not assume that the evidence still exists. Asserting missing drugs or evidence could help the accused get the charges reduced or dropped.

The accused could also make claims such as planted drugs, entrapment and medical marijuana exception. These defense options could weaken the case the prosecutor has against the accused, helping the defendant reduce or dismiss the charges against them.

The above examples should not be taken as advice and were only used to illustrate possible defense examples. Those facing drug possession charges should fully understand his or her situation so an informed decision can be made regarding their legal defense against the charges.

Source:, "Drug Possession Defenses," accessed Nov. 16, 2015

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