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What are the available defense options for drug possession?

If an individual in New York is accused of a drug crime, the person could face serious penalties. Depending on the type of crime and the type of drug, a defendant could endure harsh penalties and even mandatory minimum sentences if the individual is convicted for drug possession. Whether a motorist was subject to a search following a traffic stop or accident, an individual's home is searched due to reasonable suspicion or the accused's person was searched following suspicion, those accused of drug possession charges have defense options.

What are the available defense options for drug possession? Whether you are accused with possession for either personal use of a drug or the intent to sell, there are criminal defense options that could help a defendant reduce or dismiss the charges against them.

The first and most common approach is to assert an unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to due process and the lawful search and seizure procedures prior to an arrest. This means that in a drug possession case, the illicit drugs found must have been in plain view. However, if drugs are seized, for example, by using a crowbar to get into a defendant's trunk following a traffic stop, this does not constitute a lawful search and seizure and cannot be entered into as evidence.

Next, a defendant could claim that the drugs belong to someone else. This defense relies on the prosecutor proving that the drugs did in fact belong to the accused. If that cannot be established, it is possible to get the charges dismissed or reduced.

A third defense option is to assert that the substance seized is not an illegal drug. This requires a crime lab analysis of the seized substance followed by the lab analyst testifying in court. If it is not proven to be an illegal substance, then the drug charges could be dropped.

Other defense options include missing drugs, which requires the prosecution the produce the actual drugs recovered in the case, planted drugs and entrapment. If any of these defense options cause reasonable doubt and the prosecution cannot prove the case, a defendant will likely face reduced charges or have the charges dismissed altogether.

Making a criminal defense is an important step no matter the severity of the crime. Defendants should take the time to fully understand what options are available to them. This will help them determine what options will serve his or her interests best.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Drug Possession Defenses," accessed Aug. 28, 2016

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