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Drug charges are considered to be some of the most serious charges. This is especially true if an accused offender is charged with a felony drug crime or has a history of drug charges. However, drug charges are not simple and straightforward. There are sometimes explanations for having a certain drug on your person or it might be possible that the drugs are not yours and you had no idea they were placed in your vehicle or home by another party. Because there can be a wide variety of explanations, it is important for defendants to note their defense options.

What defenses are available for drug possession charges? When a person is accused of drug possession, there is either an assumption that the accused possesses it for personal use or has the intent to sell it to others. In either case, it is possible to assert a defense regardless if you are facing state or federal drug charges.

The most common defense strategy against drug possession is claiming there was an unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to due process, which also includes what makes a search and seizure prior to an arrest lawful. While authorities are able to seize items in plain view, they would not be able to look in places they do not have permission to via consent or search warrant. Thus, if evidence is collected in violation of a person's Fourth Amendment, this evidence could be suppressed.

Another common defense strategy is asserting that the drugs in question belonged to someone else. It is possible that someone had them in your vehicle or home without your knowledge. A defendant must knowingly possess drugs in order to be convicted of a drug possession charge. Other defense options include proving that the recovered substance is in fact what they believe it is, seeking a crime lab analysis, asking the prosecution to produce the actual drugs involved in the charge or claiming that the drugs were planted or was a result of entrapment. Finally, a defendant could assert that the drugs in question have a medical exception.

Being accused of a drug crime is not an easy predicament to be in. However, it is a situation defendants can navigate through. Asserting a defense is imperative, no matter how grave your situation appears. This does not only ensure your rights are protected but also helps you with the reduction or dismissal of the charges against you.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Drug Possession Defenses," accessed August 5, 2017

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