When defending clients on drug offenses, they always ask whether or not they can beat the charges. Of course, no attorney worth his or her salt will ever promise a client a certain outcome in court. But that doesn’t mean that an extensive review of the evidence can’t provide a competent criminal defense attorney with a good idea of a client’s chances in court.
All cases are unique
Even though drug cases can share many commonalities — even within a scenario of multiple arrests in a bust — each arrestee has different circumstances that can make conviction much less likely or almost a foregone conclusion.
If you were arrested on drug charges here in Houston, your attorney will examine the evidence against you (and potentially other defendants). Based on your version of events and the evidence, he or she can suggest some possible defense options.
Common defenses to drug possession charges
There are a variety of approaches to a drug possession defense. Attorneys may dispute the evidence directly, either through challenges to the testimony of witnesses or the integrity of the physical evidence, e.g., the tested substance was contaminated.
Another defense option is to challenge the procedures, e.g., police officers violated the limited scope of a warrant during their search.
Below are some common defenses to drug possession charges.
Crime lab errors
Looks can be deceiving when it comes to drugs. A Florida man spent three months in jail when police alleged that pieces of drywall from his job that they found in his vehicle were cocaine. Prosecutors must prove that their alleged evidence is actually the illegal substance they claim it is.
The reputation of the lab that analyzes the substance and the integrity of the lab technician must be beyond reproach. Lab techs must also testify in court as to their findings.
Unlawful searches and seizures
Defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution guarantees them, among other things, the due process of law. This means that prior to the defendants’ arrests, the police must have lawfully carried out the search accompanied by the proper warrant.
It’s not mine, Officer
This defense works in some circumstances better than others, of course. While it may be difficult to convince a jury or judge that the gram of coke in the sock drawer of your bedroom in the apartment where you live alone wasn’t yours, it could be a viable defense if you’re an Uber driver who got popped for a gram under the floor mat in back.
Where’s the evidence?
Evidence transfers must be done strictly according to the chain of command. Any lapses in this chain can be seized as proof that the integrity of the evidence has been breached and should be tossed. Even discrepancies in purity levels and amount totals is an opportunity for the defense to seed doubt.
It was planted
In an ideal world, all cops would be good guys. In reality, the number of bad apples is troubling. If the arresting officer has a reputation as a “dirty cop,” especially if this has already been substantiated by a disciplinary action, the attorney may suggest mounting this type of defense.
Start your defense early
Regardless of your defense strategy, this is no time to dawdle. Take an aggressive, proactive approach to your criminal defense by working closely together with your Houston defense attorney.