How Do You Win a Drug Case?
by Unbundled Legal Help
Fighting drug charges is no easy feat. It requires knowledge, strategy, and plenty of patience. It may seem impossible, but if you’re facing drug charges, know that it is possible to win your case.
Types of Drug Charges
First and foremost, it is important to understand the different types of drug charges. Your charge and subsequent penalties will depend on whether the charge is under state or federal law, and what state the charge is in.
Generally, the most common types of drug charges include possession, manufacturing, distribution, and trafficking.
Possession is likely the most common type of drug charge. An individual is charged with possession when they are found with drugs on them or in their property. Possessing drug paraphernalia can also result in possession charges. Drug paraphernalia includes items used to produce or consume drugs, like pipes, bongs, or syringes.
Possession charges can be tricky. If you are found with a limited amount of drugs, you may only face a charge for simple drug possession. However, if you possess a larger quantity of drugs, you may face charges for possession with intent to distribute.
Additionally, you may be charged for drug possession whether the drugs were found on your person or inside your property, like your vehicle or home.
Depending on whether your charge is for simple possession or possession with intent to distribute, penalties can vary, including probation, rehabilitation, and prison time.
As the name suggests, when an individual is charged with drug manufacturing, this means they are involved with either the production of ingredients used to make the drugs or with producing the drugs themselves.
It is essential to note that, because marijuana laws have changed in many states, it is no longer a crime to cultivate or produce marijuana in those states.
Consequences for manufacturing illegal drugs include steep fines and prison time.
Drug distribution refers to the selling of illegal drugs. Distribution charges are usually reserved for those selling drugs on a smaller scale.
Penalties for distribution charges include fines and prison time.
Trafficking has some similarities to distribution but on a much larger scale. Drug trafficking refers to the transportation and selling of illegal drugs. Trafficking also typically involves moving drugs across state borders or importing from different countries.
Drug trafficking, being one of the most serious drug charges, comes with more severe consequences. Those charged with trafficking frequently face long prison sentences.
What Makes a Drug Illegal?
When it comes to drug charges, it is common to hear words like “illegal drugs” or “controlled substances.”
A drug is a substance that affects the body in a multitude of ways. Illegal drugs are those that the law forbids individuals to produce and sell, primarily for their extremely dangerous effects. These drugs can affect the body’s function, emotions, mental health, and judgment. Long-term use of illegal drugs can result in permanent effects.
A drug can be considered a “controlled substance” because the government assesses how the potential for abuse and addiction. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) separates drugs into schedules, from one to five, depending on how addictive the drug can be. The schedule, from most to least addictive, includes:
- Schedule I: high likelihood of abuse. Examples: heroin, ecstasy.
- Schedule II: also high likelihood of abuse, but it is possible to get a prescription for some Schedule II drugs. Examples: Adderall, Percocet.
- Schedule III: less likelihood of abuse, but can cause some dependence. Examples: ketamine, codeine.
- Schedule IV: a lower likelihood of abuse. Examples: Xanax, Ambien.
- Schedule V: the lowest likelihood of abuse, are usually available without a prescription. Example: cough syrup with minimal codeine.
Not all controlled substances are illegal, and some do have valid medical use. However, illegal drugs are those deemed most addictive.
Tips for Winning a Drug Case
In some instances, it is possible to win your drug case. This will depend on the circumstances surrounding your charges and your ability to competently represent yourself in court.
Know and Understand Your Rights
The very first step is to understand your rights. Many individuals who face an arrest or drug charges are completely unaware of the rights afforded to everyone.
For example, when you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and not divulge any information. You may speak to law enforcement officers if you’d like, but most often it is best to avoid speaking until you have requested an attorney. Having a lawyer present is another basic right.
Also, it is important to note that law enforcement officers are not allowed to search you or your property for no reason. In order for an officer to lawfully search you, they must first have probable cause or reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed a crime. To search your home, they must have a valid search warrant. Without this, officers are not allowed to search you or your property, and if they do, any evidence recovered will likely be inadmissible in court.
Assess and Collect Evidence
Once you have been charged with a drug-related crime, assess the evidence against you. Once you understand what evidence the state has, you may be able to use it in your favor. It is wise to analyze everything, including:
- What officers recovered during the search
- Lab results, if any
- Potential witnesses
After going over the evidence, it may be clearer how you should proceed and what your game plan should look like.
Additionally, collect your own evidence if possible or necessary. It is critical do to this as soon as possible, as some evidence may become unavailable over time.
Analyze Possible Defenses
Depending on your particular case, there may be some available defenses. Some frequently used defenses for drug charges include:
- Illegal search: As previously mentioned, law enforcement officers must conduct their searches legally. If an officer performed an illegal search and evidence was recovered, that evidence may not be able to be used against you, seriously affecting the state’s case.
- Lack of knowledge: If, for example, drugs were found in your vehicle, you may be able to claim a lack of knowledge. It is possible that you lent your car to a friend or had friends riding in the car with you, and those drugs belonged to one of them. The state must prove you knowingly possessed the drugs and they belonged to you.
- Entrapment: Entrapment refers to law enforcement officers coercing you to commit a crime you might otherwise have not committed. You essentially admit to committing the crime but offer a legal justification for committing it. This defense is only available in very specific circumstances.
- Inaccurate lab results: If the substance you were arrested for was sent to a lab to confirm it was indeed an illegal drug, you may claim the lab results were inaccurate due to faulty lab equipment.
- Chain of custody issues: “Chain of custody” refers to evidence that is gathered for a crime and how it is handled. For evidence to be used against you, it must have a clean chain of custody. For example, if officers claim you possessed a baggie of cocaine, many hands may touch that baggie. The officer might’ve taken it, handed it off to someone at police headquarters, who then gave it to an expert for testing, and so on. If there is any doubt as to the handling of that baggie, it may be possible to argue chain of custody issues.
- Medical exception: Marijuana was previously illegal everywhere, no exceptions. Now, it is possible to legally possess marijuana in certain circumstances. If you have a medical need for marijuana, you may be able to claim a medical exception with the proper documentation.
Consider Drug Court and Rehabilitation
In certain states, there is something referred to as “drug court.” Drug court often offers those charged with drug-related crimes an opportunity to complete a program in exchange for their charges getting dismissed.
Get Legal Help
Drug charges can be very serious and result in life-altering consequences. It is best to consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to help you fight your charges. While you can handle your defense all on your own, it can be challenging, frustrating, and time-consuming.
A qualified lawyer can offer you your best chances of winning your drug case.
Hire an Unbundled Lawyer
Unbundled Legal Help believes quality lawyers and legal help should be accessible to all.
An unbundled lawyer will work with you as your case proceeds. You will handle some of the work while your attorney does the heavy lifting, taking over during the most crucial portions. Unbundled legal services start at $500-$1500, much less than a traditional lawyer, with the same high-quality services.
Whether you need minimal help or more extensive representation, Unbundled Legal Help can connect you today with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.
If you’re facing drug charges, you’re not alone in your battle. Contact us today to get started.