Federal and state laws restrict the use, possession, and trafficking of drugs like heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, ketamine, oxycontin, and, in some states, marijuana. You need an experienced criminal lawyer if you’re arrested or charged with drug crime to help get your charges dropped. Here are common drug crimes and the defenses your lawyer can use to prevent punishment or reduce its severity:
Police officers can charge you with drug possession if found with an illegal or scheduled drug on your belongings, like your bag or car. Depending on your criminal history, the charge could result in penalties like rehabilitation, jail time, or fines. First-time drug offenders often get rehabilitation, whereas repeat offenders get jail time.
A lack of knowledge about the drugs may be a suitable defense if police find the drugs in another person’s belongings. You can argue you didn’t know of their existence if officers find them in a car belonging to a friend. An illegal search defense is suitable if police officers search your person or property without a warrant or probable cause. An unlawful search violates your right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment.
This is the delivery, transfer, or sale of scheduled or illegal drugs to another person. You will face a drug distribution charge if you’re caught exchanging drugs for money or if the intent to distribute is implied. Distribution is implied if you have drug quantities greater than one would typically carry for personal use. Officers can also charge you if you carry the drugs in multiple baggies and have a large amount of cash. These signify drug dealing. Possession with intent to distribute is a felony and carries heavy penalties.
A common defense for drug trafficking charges is an illegal search. Your lawyer can claim an unlawful search if officers access your property without a warrant or if their search goes beyond the scope of their warrant. A judge can throw out evidence collected in your house if officers only have a warrant to search your backyard. This is because their warrant limits where they can search. Your lawyer can also argue your drugs are for personal use, not sale if the quantities aren’t too significant. This is a suitable defense if you want your charge dropped from possession with intent to distribute to possession.
Lawyers can also use entrapment as a defense. Entrapment occurs when officers induce suspects into committing crimes they’d have otherwise not committed. Your lawyer will use this as a defense if an officer harasses or threatens you into selling or delivering drugs and arrests you for doing so.
The law prohibits manufacturing everything from intermediate substances used in drug manufacturing to the final products themselves. Drug manufacturing carries steep penalties as it’s tried as a felony. This means you can spend years in prison. The incarceration period depends on your criminal history, your production quantities, the presence of minors around your manufacturing site, and your substances’ effects. You may face a high prison sentence if:
- You have prior drug trafficking convictions.
- Have large drug quantities.
- You manufacture drugs near children. For example, if your operations are in your garage and you have children in your home.
- Your controlled substances cause injury or death.
Officers should have a warrant to search your property and seize the controlled substances to charge you. If they don’t, a skilled criminal lawyer can get your charges dropped by using the illegal search defense. Your lawyer can also argue you were not involved in the manufacture. This is an ideal defense for someone arrested when trying to purchase drugs at the manufacturing site. It is also be suitable if you share space with the manufacturers and didn’t know about their operations.
Your lawyer can also use an improper chain of custody defense. This works if officers confiscate and lose your drugs or if they don’t maintain proper custody records. Custody records should show when the substances came into evidence, how many times officers have transferred them, who’s transferred them, and the reasons for the transfers.
Hire an Experienced Criminal Lawyer
Drug crimes can carry a wide range of penalties, ranging from rehabilitation and probation to years in prison. The extent of your punishment depends on your lawyer’s expertise. An experienced criminal lawyer can get your charge dismissed or reduce your case from a felony to a misdemeanor, improving your chances of a light sentence. If arrested, contact your lawyer immediately. Only talk to police officers with your lawyer present to avoid jeopardizing your case.