There are those who will be lucky enough to go their entire life without facing criminal charges. For everyone else, however, it’s important to avoid legal mistakes that can lead to more serious consequences than necessary. This happens far too often with drug possession charges, and it’s usually because those charged with the crime don’t fully understand their rights. The most important thing to remember is this: regardless of how much evidence there is against you, there’s no such thing as an “open-and-shut” case when it comes to drug possession charges.
Know What You’re Up Against
There aren’t many places in the United States that don’t take drug charges seriously. There are, however, some charges that don’t have excessively serious consequences. In North Carolina, for instance, possessing half an ounce or less of marijuana will only result in a $200 fine, but it is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. To show the range of punishments, however, it’s important to realize that a NC criminal defense lawyer may be a necessity in some cases considering the state will send a person to prison for up to 18 years for growing certain amounts of the drug.
Legal penalties, however, aren’t the end of negative repercussions. There are some employers who will not hire people with criminal backgrounds, and there are even more who will not consider those with drug charges. Additionally, drug charges may automatically bar a person from receiving any state or federal financial aid for higher education. This means that a possession charge can ruin someone’s life in the present and the future.
Suggested Defenses for Possession Charges
There are an abundance of possible defenses to drug possession charges. One of the best defenses is a violation of a person’s 4th Amendment rights (the right against unlawful searches and seizures). If police didn’t follow proper protocol when seizing drugs, they may not even be able to use the evidence against you. Additionally, if the contraband belongs to someone else or, even better, law enforcement managed to lose the drugs, then those drugs also can’t be used as evidence against you.
Oversights can be made during the lab analysis as well, which is used to prove that a certain substance is what the police believe it to be. These mistakes can easily lead to acquittals. Police can also make the mistake of pressuring a person into possessing drugs. This is known as entrapment. Authorities are fully allowed to set up sting operations, but it’s important to note that there’s a fine line between these operations and entrapment.
Mistakes to Avoid
While everyone is entitled to a defense, there are certain mistakes that you could make that could make it much more difficult for you to avoid being convicted. It’s important, for instance, to never consent to a search. This is true whether you may have forgotten to throw out a marijuana “roach” yesterday or if you’re growing an entire field of the plant in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. This removes an officer’s need for a warrant, and you will have basically handed them the evidence that they need to prosecute you.
Another mistake people often make is not hiring an attorney. Granted there are some times, such as minor traffic violations, where it may be overkill to hire an attorney. Drug possession charges, on the other hand, are not one of these times. Only a local attorney will know all of the nuances of the law which could result in an acquittal or the dropping of all charges. Without this type of knowledge on your side, you’ll often be at the mercy of the state’s prosecutor.
Penalties for possessing drugs will vary by state, locality and even the type of drug. It’s vital that you never automatically plead guilty, and it will become excessively important for you to find legal help if you’re hoping to avoid consequences that can follow you your entire life. Those who just accept the charge and conviction may not realize it now, but the stigma related to that conviction will never go away. Those who fight, on the other hand, are often given a second chance to have an unaffected life.