Both nationally and right here in Florida, law enforcement is once again cracking down hard on drug crimes, even minor ones. It is now more important than ever that you know your rights and how to fight back if you find yourself charged.
Below are some of the defense strategies that you may be able to use if you get arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
Whether or not you should use any particular strategy is something that you should discuss with your lawyer, because what is best for you will depend on the particulars of your case and situation. However, even simply knowing about these common strategies can make a difference.
Common Defenses People Can Use to Fight Charges of Possession in Florida
The substance wasn’t a drug. Oftentimes, the police will arrest someone because they see something that looks like a drug. This is particularly prevalent with cocaine. However, just because it looks like a controlled substance does not mean that it is one.
Make sure that your lawyer requests a crime lab analysis. After all, if the prosecution is unable to prove that you were actually in possession of an illegal drug, there is no case against you.
Illegal search. There are specific rules that police officers must follow when undertaking a search. Quite often in drug cases, though, these rules can get bent – if not completely broken.
For example, let’s say a cop pulls you over. If you have illegal substances in plain sight (e.g., sitting out in the back seat), they can seize them and use them as evidence.
However, if they ask to look in your trunk, you do not have to let them unless they have a warrant. So, if they open it without your permission and find drugs, it is evidence that was illegally obtained.
The drugs weren’t yours. Perhaps you invited some friends over for a party and it got a little wild. When the cops come, they find drugs sitting out and arrest you. However, you did not have any idea that anyone was using at your place.
There are two types of possession in Florida: actual and constructive. Actual means the drugs are on your person. Constructive means that you knew about the drugs, that they were illegal, and that they were in your “dominion and control.”
Using the example above, there is a fairly strong case for dominion and control because the drugs were found at your place. However, the prosecution still has to prove that you not only knew about the drugs, but also that you knew they were illegal.
You could also attempt to make the argument that the drugs themselves were planted, but this strategy isn’t advised unless you have a fairly strong case with plenty of evidence to back it up.
Missing drugs – or other evidence. When law enforcement collects evidence for a case, it often passes through many hands and travels to and from several locations. Sometimes, in the course of all this movement, things get misplaced.
If the prosecution is unable to produce specific pieces of evidence that are important to their case – especially the drugs they allegedly found on you – it can severely weaken their case and make it very difficult for them to convict you.
Bottom line? Take heart. It can seem like there’s no way out of being charged with possession, but a knowledgeable Florida defense lawyer understands that there are many ways to fight back and get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed. Reach out to us today.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.