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What are defenses for drug possession charges?

Residents of New York are aware of the harsh penalties that could result from a drug crime. While the severity of the consequences depends on the drug type and other circumstances, individuals facing drug charges should understand that there are defenses available. These hold true when an individual is accused of drug possession. Whether it is for personal use or with intent to sell, allegations surrounding drug possession can be challenged.

What are defenses for drug possession charges? The most common way to assert a defense against a drug possession charge is a wrongful search and seizure. Because the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees a person the right to be reasonably free from police intrusion, a defendant could in the right case ask the court to suppress evidence if an unlawful search resulted in an arrest. The details of the search and seizure could help a defendant reduce or even dismiss the charges against them.

Another defense option is asserting that the drugs belonged to someone else. It could be possible that a driver of a vehicle had no idea that a passenger of a vehicle had an illicit drug on them or brought it in the vehicle. A defendant could make a defense and uncover evidence to help prove that the drugs in fact did not belong to them.

Other defense options include missing drugs, planted drugs or entrapment. Missing drugs could occur if evidence procedures or crime lab analysis were not properly documented or followed. Planted drugs could be difficult to prove, but cases in which a corrupt officer or other person frames someone else do happen. Lastly, entrapment, which occurs when the state overreaches in its setting up of a controlled drug buy, could be proven in some situations, such if the defendant was unlawfully pressured into passing drugs.

Defending against a criminal charge, no matter the type, can be a complex process. Thus, it is often advisable to have the assistance of a legal professional. This not only ensures that a defendant is aware of his or her options but also that he or she takes steps to protect these rights as well.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Drug Possession Defenses," accessed Jan. 28, 2017

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