Drug laws: Possession, punishment and defense - Part 3 of 3

Having a drug conviction on your record can affect future job opportunities, acceptance into university programs, and even getting approved for a good apartment. Since drug laws in Pennsylvania are very strict, it is important to have a strong defense to fight against the charges. In order to win a drug charge case, the prosecutor must prove beyond a doubt that you knew you possessed an illegal substance.

Fortunately, there are several defenses available for drug possession charges. A criminal defense attorney in the Lancaster area can review your case and help you devise a defense. For example, you may have had a prescription for the pills the officer found on your person.

Illegal acts by law enforcement

You have the right to the due process of the law. This means that law enforcement officers must comply with legal search and seizure procedures in order to legally search your home, vehicle or person. This means that police must first see something that provides "probable cause," or obtain a warrant, before they can look through your personal items. If the arresting officer violated this, the court might dismiss the charges.

The drugs were not yours

If police officers find drugs in your car or home that you did not know were there, this may be a good defense. For example, if a friend, relative or acquaintance stashed marijuana in your apartment without your knowledge, your attorney may be able to prove that you were completely unaware of the situation.

Lost in the shuffle

Keeping up with evidence, especially as it changes hands, can be difficult. When the police seize a controlled substance, they must turn it over to the crime lab for analysis. Once the technicians verify it is a drug, it must then be entered into evidence. Since the drugs change hands several times, it is easy for them to get lost. If the prosecutor cannot produce the drugs as evidence during court proceedings, your attorney may able to convince the judge to dismiss the charges.

The police gave you the drugs

Entrapment occurs when police officers take steps to induce or prompt an individual to commit an illegal offense. For example, if the police give the drugs to a person to pose as a dealer in order to catch you buying them, the court may throw out the charges based on entrapment.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug offense in Pennsylvania, you must take action to protect your rights. There could be a number of defenses available to you to fight against the charges.

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