It was a typical Friday night. You picked up a couple of friends and were planning to watch the game at your favorite dive bar. Unfortunately, a cop pulled you over for speeding and the next thing you knew, the handcuffs were on and you being put into the back of a squad car.
Your car had been searched and small bag of marijuana was found under the front passenger seat. It’s not yours, but it’s in your car, so as far as the police are concerned, it’s your marijuana.
A Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney can help decide what type of defense may apply to you if you choose to plead not guilty. Your defense could be based on challenging the facts presented by the prosecution, the evidence presented, or even the procedures used during the discovery and arrest.
Read below for some common defenses to drug possession charges.
As a United States resident, you are guaranteed the right to due process of law by the Constitution. This includes the right to a lawful search and seizure before you are arrested. If this right was violated, then the evidence found during the search cannot be used in court.
For example, if your car was searched without your permission and without probable cause, then you have a defense that relies on an unlawful search and seizure.
The drugs weren’t yours
Another defense option is to claim the drugs were not yours. Your defense attorney will try to force the prosecution to prove the drugs found under the seat in your car did, in fact, belong to you and not to one of your passengers.
The drugs have gone missing
Once drugs are seized, they go through several transfers between police officers, forensic labs, and other processing desks before finally ending up in evidence. Since the drugs change hands so many times, there are plenty of opportunities for them to go missing.
If the prosecution can’t produce the drugs as evidence during trial, your attorney can make a motion that the case be dismissed.
The drugs were planted
This particular defense can be very difficult to prove. Typically, a police officer’s sworn testimony holds a lot of weight with the judge and the jury, which is why this route may not be the best option. Another reason why this defense rarely works is that it is difficult to find other officers that are willing to testify against one of their own.
However, if you are convinced the drugs were planted you can speak to your attorney about filing a motion requiring the police department to release the complaint file against the suspected officer. This gives your attorney the opportunity to examine and investigate other complaints made against the officer for signs of similar behavior that may be used as evidence.
Drug possession charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies and can carry heavy fines and jail time. If you have been charged with drug possession, it is important to understand your rights and your defense options.