If you are charged with drug possession, the repercussions can vary wildly from a slap on the wrist to years in prison. Whether you've been picked up for marijuana or meth and charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, there are things you can do to defend yourself. Here are four defense strategies to consider if you are facing a drug charge:
1. Enroll in a diversion program
If you are convicted of a drug charge, you may be required to attend narcotics anonymous meetings and take tests to ensure you have no drugs in your system. Instead of waiting for the judge to decree you have to attend meetings and take tests, be proactive.
Enroll in drug cessation classes, start counseling or begin a diversion program. These efforts make you look repentant, and they may convince the courts to lessen your charge or throw it out altogether.
Some areas even have diversion programs. If it is your first offense and you were only in possession of a small amount, you may be eligible. These programs drop your charges if you successfully complete a rehabilitation program and pay some fines.
2. Prove the drugs weren't yours
Telling the judge the "drugs weren't mine" is a popular defense, and although it doesn't always work, it can be effective. The most effective way to prove the drugs weren't yours is to definitively prove they were someone else's.
If you are willing to pin the rap on someone else, provide the courts with the other person's name and contact details as well as with any proof and a list of witnesses.
Without giving up someone else directly, you need to construct a theory on why the drugs were in your possession but are not yours. Did someone plant them on you for vengeful purposes? Were you driving someone else's car? Was someone else staying in your apartment who could have left them there? These are all the types of scenarios you need to explore.
3. Argue the officers broke the law
In all arrests, there are protocols that must be followed, and there are protocols that are specific to drug arrests as well. If you can prove the officer broke the law or did not handle the case correctly, you may be able to get the case dismissed.
If any of the following issues occurred, you can use them to prove protocol was not followed correctly:
The stop was unjustified
The officer did not have a search warrant
The officer did not have reasonable suspicion to search your car
The chain of possession of the evidence was disrupted
Similarly, if your rights were not respected, you may also be able to get the charges dismissed. If the arresting officer failed to read you the Miranda warning, deleted your video recordings or refused to let you record the sound of the arrest, your rights may have been violated. In cases like these, you may be able to get the case thrown out and the officer charged with a felony.
4. Wear down the prosecutor
In most cases, public prosecutors hear hundreds of cases per year, and these overworked public servants may fold easily if you and your drug defense attorney put a lot of pressure on them. Ideally, you want a drug defense attorney who is willing to fight the charge as if you are facing murder.
Not only will the sheer amount of proof and arguments impress the jury, they may also wear down the prosecutor. If the prosecutor sees the case getting overwhelmingly large, he or she may be willing to stop while ahead and give you a plea bargain.
In other cases, you may be able to win by requesting a lot of information from the other side. In some areas, if the prosecutor fails to deliver materials requested during discovery, the case can be thrown out.