In Texas, drug possession offenses range from Class B misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. This means that if you've been accused and are convicted, you could face incarceration and/or fines. Additionally, having a criminal record could subject you to other consequences that adversely impact your life.
However, if you've been charged with drug possession, suffering the conviction penalties without a fight isn't your only option. You can also choose to challenge the accusations against you and seek to beat your charges. Thus, you can potentially avoid or minimize the punishments levied in these types of matters.
Below are just a few of the way a drug possession charge can be fought:
- Asserting illegal search or seizure: Under the Fourth Amendment, all people are afforded the right to be protected in their person or property. Essentially, this protection means that law enforcement officials can't just stop, arrest, or go through a person's belonging without justification. They need probable cause, a warrant, or consent to take such action. In some drug cases, officers, zealously seeking to arrest an individual, might violate this constitutional right. If they do so, any evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court, weakening the prosecution's case. If the prosecutor doesn't have evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, they might drop charges.
- Arguing lack of knowledge or intent: Texas's drug possession laws, outlined in Health and Safety Code Chapter 481, provides that a person commits the offense when they "knowingly" or "intentionally" have a controlled substance. In court, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that they were in the "care, custody, control, or management" of a drug.
But say the defendant let a friend borrow their car. While using the vehicle, the friend left a baggie of cocaine under the passenger's seat. Later, as the defendant was driving home from work, a police officer pulled them over and, conducting a consensual search, found the coke. Even though the drugs were in the defendant's possession, they had no clue they were in the car. This lack of knowledge can cast doubt on the prosecutor's case.
- Proving the drugs belonged to someone else: In a drug possession case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was the one who had control over the substance. But what if the drugs were found in the defendant's roommate's room or during a party that multiple people were at? If others could have had care or custody of the drug or the defendant did not have access to the place where the substance was found, reasonable doubt may be cast on the prosecutor's case.
Because every case is different, the above defenses might not apply to yours, but don't lose hope. Criminal matters are complex, and even the smallest detail can have a huge impact on the outcome. That's why it's crucial to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your situation. They can review everything that happened and determine unique ways of fighting your charge.