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Defending Against a Drug Possession Charge

Mar 31 2017, by Sean Hessler in Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, Legal Blog

If you’ve been charged with drug possession, you may feel like your back is against the wall. The prospect of jail time, fines, and diminished life opportunities hangs over your head. But with a skilled and experienced Indianapolis drug possession lawyer in your corner, you stand a chance at defeating the charges and getting your life back on track. The prosecutor may tell you that pleading guilty is your best option, but there could be several defense strategies available to you. Don’t give up the fight before consulting with the Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys of Hessler Law PC.

Call us today at (317) 886-8800 for a free and confidential consultation.

What is Drug Possession?

To convict you of drug possession, the prosecutor will need to present evidence that demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You knowingly possessed a substance
  • That substance was an illegal drug (or one that requires a prescription and you didn’t have a valid prescription)

The simple possession of a drug will likely result in misdemeanor charges. But if the prosecutor also presents evidence demonstrating that you intended deal those drugs, you will likely face felony charges.

Beating Your Charges Before the Trail Starts

Most people think that criminal cases are won and lost at trial, but that is actually rare. Most cases are disposed of in the pre-trial stages, where your lawyer’s advocacy and swift action are essential. In drug cases, the most effective pre-trial defense strategy is filing a motion to suppress – or exclude – certain evidence from the prosecutor’s case.

The police cannot violate laws, department policies, or your constitutional rights when doing any of the following:

  • Investigating – If the police want to pull you over, they must be able to articulate a reason for doing so. It’s not enough that they have a hunch you are might have drugs. The police must obtain a warrant to tap your phone or to track your car with a GPS device.
  • Searching – The police can search your home or place of business only if they have a warrant or there is some emergency circumstance that makes obtaining a warrant impossible. The police need probable cause to search your car or your person.
  • Testing – If the police obtain a substance they believe to be a drug, they must properly label the sample and follow strict procedures in getting it tested.
  • Arresting – The police must read you your Miranda rights when they arrest you, which is a way of informing you of your rights to remain silent and to obtain the counsel of a lawyer.
  • Questioning – Once you assert your right to remain silent or ask to have a lawyer present, the police must stop questioning you.

Your lawyer can ask the judge to exclude from the case any evidence the police obtained in violation of the above principles. For example, if the prosecutor tries to use statements that you made in response to questions the police asked you after you requested a lawyer, those statements may be excluded from the case. Further, any evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search of your property, vehicle, or person may be excluded too.

When a motion to suppress succeeds, the prosecutor may be lacking enough evidence to take the case to trial. In such cases, your lawyer can ask the judge to dismiss the charges before the trial starts, saving you time, money, and the hassle of further litigation.

Proving Reasonable Doubt at Trial

If the motion to suppress is unsuccessful, or the prosecutor’s remaining evidence is sufficient to justify a trial, your lawyer will need to highlight the gaps and inconsistencies in the evidence against you. The goal will be to show that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether:

  • Your possession was knowing – When the evidence doesn’t conclusively show that you knew that you had an illegal substance, an acquittal is possible. This might happen where it can be shown that the drugs belonged to someone else who left them at your house or in your car without telling you.
  • Your possession was actual or constructive – For you to get convicted of possession, the drugs must be in your clothing, bag, or somewhere under your control, such as the glove box or the trunk of your car.
  • The substance you possessed was a drug – When the sampling and testing of the substance the police found is not performed correctly, there may be some doubt as to whether the substance was actually a drug.

If your lawyer shows that the prosecutor failed to meet their burden of proving every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt, it is likely that you will get acquitted. Every case is different, so if you want to learn about what defense strategies may be available in your case, call Hessler Law PC today at (317) 886-8800 for a free and confidential case consultation.