The New York Criminal Law Blog

How to Fight Drug Possession Charges

What are some potential defenses to a drug possession charge? If the cops caught you in possession of drugs, but not necessarily taking the drugs or selling them, what are your options?

Let's talk about the crime of drug possession.

New York state law divides drug possession charges into those related to cannabis, and those related to other controlled substances.

While the type of drug possessed in the two categories is different, the elements of the crime are still the same.

Prosecutors must prove the following things:

  • The substance was a prohibited substance,
  • The defendant possessed the substance,
  • The defendant knew that the drugs were in his or her possession, and
  • The possession was unlawful (i.e., the amount).

So, how do you get yourself out of this mess?

For starters, you should call a New York criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer, especially a local one, will have a firm understanding of the drug laws and the loopholes involved.

What are some common defenses to drug possession charges? Here are a few:

  • Possession was unknowing. One of the elements of the crime of drug possession is knowledge. This means that the drug possession was willful. If you didn't even know you had the drugs, how can you be nailed on a drug charge?
  • Constitutional defenses. Unlawful search and seizure is a common defense. If the police obtained the drugs through a search that was not lawfully conducted, such as a search without a proper warrant, then there's room for a good Fourth Amendment defense.
  • The substance wasn't illegal. Drugs can travel quite a bit between seizure and testing. A good lawyer can look at the chain of custody and poke some holes in the reliability of the tests. Basically, the argument would be that there isn't enough proof that the substance was really a controlled substance. If the prosecution can't produce the drug or the test results, this argument can actually be quite effective.

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