Are There Any Defenses To Drug Possession Charges?
Florida law treats even simple drug possession, without any intent to sell, as a serious crime. If you are charged and convicted, the prison sentence is relatively minor, but the consequences can be wide-ranging. Because of this, some drug possession defendants choose to assert what are known as affirmative defenses. While some cases are fairly open and shut, others may allow you to try and defend yourself, hopefully avoiding conviction.
Dispute The Facts
If someone is charged with drug possession, the prosecution must establish three criteria in order to convict: (1) that the substance in question is illegal to possess; (2) the defendant knew or should have known about the substance in their possession and that it was illegal; and (3) if the defendant was not stopped with the substance on their person, the prosecution must establish that they had control over the substance and the location where it was.
In order to prevent conviction, all a defendant needs to do is to cast reasonable doubt on any one of these requirements. For example, if it cannot be established that you actually had actual or constructive possession of the substance, or if the prosecution cannot show that you knew you had an illegal substance on you, enough reasonable doubt exists so that a conviction cannot be obtained. However, if you cannot cast doubt on the facts of the situation, you may be able to argue other defenses.
The other common type of affirmative defense raised in these cases is procedural. A drug arrest must be carried out appropriately, while respecting the rights of the alleged offender. However, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to jump the proverbial gun, particularly in search and seizure related moments. For example, law enforcement will sometimes arrest someone in a situation where probable cause is debatable, or may commence a search without a warrant in the belief that they will not need one.
If a search is ruled to be inadmissible, any evidence obtained on that search is inadmissible in court, due to what is known as the exclusionary rule. Any evidence that is “fruit of the poisonous tree” cannot be used against a defendant, because the law was broken to obtain it. However, it is incumbent on you to bring up this issue in court, as neither the court nor the prosecution is going to do so.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Attorney
If you are stopped with drugs, you may think you have no recourse but to plead guilty. However, if your rights have been infringed during the process, you have the right to defend yourself. The West Palm Beach drug crimes attorneys from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help ensure that your rights are protected. Contact our offices today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.