If the police find drugs in your pocket or bag, in your car, or anywhere on your property, they’re going to assume that:
- You knew the drugs were there.
- The drugs are yours.
But what if this isn’t true?
Unless you can prove right then and there that someone else might be the actual owner of the drugs, you will probably be arrested. You may even face criminal charges if nothing is done to prove ownership of the drugs in question.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
At the moment, the most important thing you can do is exercise your right to remain silent. Do not offer any information to the police, other than your identity. Politely refuse to answer additional questions and ask to speak with an attorney. These rights can make all the difference moving forward, as waiving them could mean that you unintentionally say or do something that ends up supporting charges against you.
Challenging Drug Possession Charges
Even if drugs were found on your person or property, this does not mean that they’re yours. There are a few strategies your attorney may consider in challenging the evidence against you.
Someone Else Had Access to Your Property
If you share a vehicle or home with another person or persons, this may present an opportunity to show that the drugs are not yours. Depending on where the drugs were located and other factors, it may be possible to establish—or at least suggest—that someone else put them there. Even a shadow of a doubt could be enough to challenge drug charges. The prosecuting attorney must prove that the drugs were actually yours to secure a conviction.
You Were the Victim of an Illegal Search
If drug evidence is obtained based on an unreasonable search, that evidence cannot be used against you in court. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement must have “probable cause” to search you or your property.
In many cases, this means they must have a search warrant, but there are some scenarios where a warrantless search may be permitted, including:
- You consented to the search.
- It’s an emergency—you or the police were in imminent dangerAt or the police had reason to believe a crime was being committed.
- The evidence was in plain view.
- You were lawfully arrested—a search of you and your clothing/bags is permitted at this time.
Because this is a complicated and rather grey area of the law, it’s best to talk to your attorney about the circumstances surrounding your search and whether this may have been unconstitutional.
Other defenses may include drugs that are not illegal but were prescribed by your doctor, mishandled evidence (such as a broken chain of command), or other factors that weaken the prosecution’s case against you.
Don’t Wait to Talk to an Attorney
If you’re facing charges for drugs that aren’t yours, don’t give up hope. Know that there are ways to prove this and that the right attorney can build a strong defense on your behalf.
At Thomas & Paulk, we have a long history of defending clients’ rights in the face of all types of drug charges. Our Tampa drug crime lawyers have helped people in your situation. We know how to work with the evidence and information at hand to devise a strategy that gives you the best opportunity at a positive outcome—and we do it with passion and skill.
To find out how we can help you, give us a call at (813) 321-7323 or contact us online.