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What are the defenses for possession of a controlled substance?

Being accused of a drug crime should never be taken lightly. Even accusations for possessing a small quantity of a drug could carry serious penalties. The consequences of a criminal conviction are often dependent on the type of drug that the defendant allegedly possessed, the amount possessed and the intent of the accused. No matter the severity of the penalties a defendant might face, it is important to consider the defense options available to potentially help reduce or dismiss the charges.

What are the defense options for possession of a controlled substance in New York? When considering the defenses to a drug charge, defendants should understand what prosecutors are required to prove to convict the accused.

For possession of a controlled substance, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance was in fact a controlled substance. Additionally, the defendant must have possessed the controlled substance, knew that he or she was possessing the controlled substance and the possession must have been unlawful.

With this in mind, possible defense options for criminal possession of a controlled substance include: lack of knowledge, temporary and lawful possession, prescription medicine prescribed to the accused, insufficient quantity and infancy, which is for person younger that 16-years-old. These defenses call into question facts that must be proven by the prosecution. Because of this, defendants should seek to introduce evidence that helps question these facts. Additionally, defendants could also seek to suppress evidence, helping to reduce and even dismiss the charges entirely against them.

Because the penalties for drug possession can be significant, it is important to initiate a timely and strong defense. Defendants should be fully aware of the situation, as well as the defense options available to them. This could help defendants better protect their interests and rights.

Source: Public.leginfo.state.ny.us, "Article 220 - Controlled Substances Offenses," accessed Oct. 19, 2015

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