Individuals accused of drug possession in New York could face felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the amount. Jail time, heavy fines and a permanent criminal record might come with a conviction. As with all criminal charges, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Several defenses may help establish someone’s innocence to drug possession charges.
Common defenses to drug possession
Someone cannot be found guilty of drug possession if they do not possess anything. Without proof of actual or constructive possession, the case may fall apart. A person must also know about the drugs to face charges. For example, the police might serve a warrant and find drugs hidden in a closet, but someone else rents the room. The person charged with possession may provide proof that he or she knew nothing about the drugs. A similar event could play out if the police uncover drugs inside a car and charge everyone in the vehicle with possession when only one person hid and knew about the contraband.
There are also times when drug possession is not illegal. Someone with a prescription for Oxycontin is not in unlawful possession of the drug. The same is true of medical marijuana on the state level although federal charges could apply depending on the amount in possession.
Violations of constitutional rights
The police need probable cause to arrest or search someone. A warrant might be necessary for specific situations. When there’s no probable cause to pull over a vehicle or a warrant to search a home, any seized evidence could end up suppressed in court.
Entrapment reflects another egregious violation of a person’s rights. Evidence procured through entrapment might be thrown out of court, which may then undermine a prosecutor’s case to convict on drug charges.
An experienced attorney might present a specific criminal defense strategy to a person facing state or federal charges. The attorney may review the evidence in the case to determine if police illegally obtained it.