If you are charged with possessing drugs or intent to sell or distribute illegal drugs, you may be considering hiring a drug defense attorney. A drug defense attorney can be invaluable, as they can raise many defenses that you wouldn't think or know to raise on your own. Some of these defenses can get the charges against you dismissed, some can get the charges reduced and others can keep you out of prison. Here are a few of the defenses that a drug defense attorney may attempt to raise in court if you are charged with a drug-related crime.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
The fourth amendment of the Constitution protects you against police unlawfully searching you, your car and your home. Any evidence that is obtained during an unlawful search cannot be used against you in court. As such, a criminal defense attorney may raise questions about where the drugs were found and if police had the right to search for them and seize them. If a proper warrant is not obtained, or if you are pulled over or questioned illegally, and that is when drugs are found, the charges against you may be dismissed.
Generally speaking, police have to have reasonable suspicion to search for drugs. A police officer cannot pull over every person they wish and search their car for drugs. If a police officer sees what they believe to be a drug deal occurring, they have reasonable suspicion to pull you over and search your car. However, if you are simply in a known drug area, they can't pull you over. If a police officer pulls you over for a traffic-related offense, and they smell drugs or believe you may be under the influence, they have reasonable suspicion to search your car. Reasonable suspicion can be a grey area, which is why hiring a drug defense attorney is invaluable.
The Drugs Aren't Yours
In order to be convicted of a drug crime, the judge and jury have to believe that the drugs belong to you. However, most drugs are typically found in places where multiple people are present. If drugs are found in a home that you share with roommates, or in a car that you are driving but don't own, an experienced drug defense attorney may be able to place reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge and jury as to who the drugs belong to. If they can't tie the drugs back to you personally, they may find you not guilty of the crimes for which you are being tried.
You Did Not Have the Intent to Sell the Drugs
If you have drugs on your person, and you are legally stopped and searched by the police, it is going to be hard to use either of the above drug defenses. As such, in this type of case, it may be best for a drug defense attorney to try to plead guilty to possession and fight the intent to sell or distribute charges, rather than hope for a not guilty verdict or dismissal on all of your charges. Often times, when someone has a large amount of drugs on their person and/or the drugs are in individual packages, you will be charged with the intent to sell or distribute drugs. A police officer does not have to catch you actually selling drugs to charge you with this crime. However, you may not have had the intent to sell or distribute the drugs at all. You may have just purchased the drugs or bought a large quantity at once. A drug defense attorney may be able to explain your intent in court and ask the prosecutor to prove that you had the intent to sell the drugs. This can raise reasonable doubt. Additionally, your attorney may decide to put you on the stand. If you admit to having the drugs but state that you did not intend to sell them, and you come off as credible, the judge and jurors may believe you. There is a much higher penalty for selling drugs compared to possessing them, so focusing on getting these charges reduced or getting a not guilty verdict on them may save you jail time.
You Need Rehab, Not Jail
In some instances, the facts surrounding the case are going to be hard to defend. If you admitted to the charges against you, the likelihood of getting the charges reduced is not great. However, this doesn't mean that you are automatically going to go to jail. A great drug defense attorney can argue that you are in need of rehab, rather than a jail sentence. Many states have adopted newer guidelines to rehabilitate drug users, rather than punish them in overcrowded jails. The laws about who can get rehab vary from state-to-state, but generally, first time offenders who are facing only non-violent drug charges are eligible for rehab. A drug defense attorney can use this information to help you avoid jail and get the help you need to clean up your life.
Being charged with a crime is not the same as being found guilty of a crime. If you are charged with a drug-related crime, you should take the charges against you seriously. They can affect your freedom and your criminal status in the future. Hiring a drug defense attorney from a firm like Russ Jones Attorney At Law can help you get the charges against you dismissed or reduced and minimize punishment for your crime.