If you find yourself accused or convicted of a drug crime, the consequences can be severe and have long-lasting repercussions for your future. You may find yourself unable to get a job or attend college, be turned down for funding or financial assistance, or, in severe cases, see your criminal record stained by a jail term.
The nature of your punishment will depend largely on three factors: just what drugs you were found with, how much you had on you, and your prior record. Class A possession will come with a much harsher punishment than substances with a lower classification, while those with previous drug charges on their record will face a hefty penalty.
Are There Any Defenses Available to Drug Crimes?
Getting the right defense for your case can be the key to staying out of serious trouble, and can make a significant difference to your outcome. Some of the most common defenses include:
A Violation of 4th Amendment Rights
The 4th Amendment protects every US citizen: people have the right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government – in this case, law enforcement officials. It is important to note that not all searches and seizures are illegal under the 4th Amendment, but any of those deemed unreasonable by law will be an applicable defense to a drug crime.
Most breaches of this Amendment occur when police find drugs on your property, in your car, or on your person. Unless specific, strict procedures are followed, the officers in question could find themselves in breach of your constitutional rights. A search may be started or undertaken in some situations, only to be later deemed unlawful, and the evidence then rendered inadmissible. Strong and secure knowledge of your rights is essential here, along with a strong, qualified attorney who can stand up for your legal rights.
You Possess a Lack of Knowledge
You can only be convicted of a drug crime if it can be proven that you had prior knowledge that they were there. This factor is an integral element of any drug crime; even though drugs have been located, you cannot be convicted without proof of prior knowledge. Importantly, it is up to the prosecution to prove this fact, rather than the defendant to prove your innocence. This is a common defense, and one with a decent success rate.
You Have a Prescription or Legal Right to The Drugs
If you can show that you have a legal prescription to use and possess the drugs found, you may be able to use this as an exemption and justification for your possession of the drugs. It is important to note that this is not always a foolproof defense; you may have higher quantities of the substance than permitted, for example, but it can and has been used as a viable defense across Middlesex, Sussex, and Essex, as well as the wider Massachusetts region.