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Defense options when facing drug possession charges

A drug possession charge is usually a misdemeanor, although the charge could be a felony depending on the amount of the drug the suspect is alleged to possess. Regardless, facing this type of charge is a serious matter, one that could result in a potential prison sentence if the case ends in a conviction.

The good news is that defendants facing a drug possession charge are not without options when it comes to presenting a defense. There a variety of circumstances in which a drug possession charge could be a mistake. For instance, probably the most common defense to a drug possession charge - and the most powerful - is to assert that the alleged illegal drugs were seized in violation of the suspect's constitutional rights.

If a suspect's constitutional rights have been violated, part of the defense strategy will likely include a motion to suppress the evidence due to the unconstitutional methods by which the evidence was procured. If a motion to suppress is successful, and the only charge in the case is the drug possession charge, there is a high probability that the case will need to be dismissed altogether.

There are other less common - and less successful - defenses that can be presented. Take, for example, a situation in which police officers are called to a party, and sitting on the coffee table is a baggie of marijuana. What if there are five different people sitting around the table? How can law enforcement officials determine who owns the illegal drugs if no one claims ownership? Or, what if the police officers believe the substance is an illegal drug, but upon testing at the crime lab it is determined to be another non-illegal substance entirely? These factors can play a role in presenting a defense to drug possession charges.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Possession Defenses," Accessed Aug. 2, 2015

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