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Defending against drug possession charges

Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroine and ecstasy are all considered illegal or illicit drugs. State and federal drug laws often carry stiff penalties for individuals found in possession of these types of illegal drugs or in possession of paraphernalia or other chemicals or materials believed to be associated with the cultivation, manufacturing, sale or distribution of these types of drugs.

An individual may be charged with drug possession if an illegal drug is found on his or her person or in his or her possession which could include in one's car or home or on one's private property. When it comes to penalties associated with a drug crime conviction, much depends on the type and quantity of drug that's involved.

When prosecuting drug-related cases, prosecutors must be able to prove unequivocally that an individual knew the drug was illegal and that "he or she knowingly had possession of, or control over, the drug." While the circumstances of all drug cases are unique, a criminal defense attorney may employ one of the following common defenses to drug charges.

Law enforcement officials must abide by laws and follow procedural rules when investigating, making arrests and prosecuting any criminal case. In drug cases, Fourth Amendment rights are often a factor related to the unlawful search and seizure by law enforcement officials. For example, if a police officer requests permission to search an individual's car and he or she says no, if the officer searches the car without consent and finds illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia in the glove compartment or trunk, the evidence should not be admissible in court.

In other drug cases, the illegal drugs in question may belong to someone else or an individual may not have had knowledge of the existence of the drugs. Additionally, mistakes may occur when evidence is sent to a crime lab. These errors may relate to the type or quantity of illegal drugs as well as whether the drugs produced as evidence are the actual drugs that were seized by law enforcement officials.

Minneapolis area residents who are facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney. A defense attorney will work to refute evidence and protect an individual's constitutional rights.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Drug Possession Overview," 2014

FindLaw.com, "Drug Possession Defenses," 2014

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