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5 Effective Drug Possession Defense Strategies

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Facing charges of criminal drug possession can be frightening. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine your best defense strategy.

Santa Clara, CAShould you find yourself charged with possession of a controlled substance, understand that an arrest doesn't equate to a conviction. Such criminal law offenses are viewed with considerable gravity across many states, yet there exist numerous defense tactics that could be leveraged to contest the charges you're facing, tailored according to your case's specifics.

Among these are defenses that question the case's facts or evidence, and those based on procedural missteps or breaches of Constitutional rights.

Outlined below are several typical defenses that a proficient criminal defense lawyer might introduce in a case concerning drug possession:

Medical Necessity

A legitimate prescription can be a key defense if you're accused of unauthorized possession of prescription drugs. Nevertheless, it doesn't ensure immunity from legal action. You might still face charges under certain circumstances, such as possessing an amount exceeding what's prescribed or misusing the medication contrary to the prescription's instructions.

The way you manage prescription medications is significantly scrutinized during legal proceedings. The prosecuting team, judge, and jury will delve into numerous details to determine the credibility of your defense against drug charges. Being accused of prescription fraud could lead to facing dual allegations. One for the fraud itself and another for possessing a controlled substance illegally.

Establishing That You Did Not Possess

You might be able to demonstrate that you were neither directly nor indirectly in possession of an illegal substance. It's possible that your roommate actually owned the substance, and you had absolutely no knowledge of its existence within your residence. Or perhaps you unintentionally picked up a bag that happened to contain illegal substances, without realizing what was inside.

When it becomes a challenge for the prosecution to show that the accused had direct or indirect control over an illegal substance, obtaining a conviction against the accused proves difficult. If this is tricky to understand, check out the difference between actual vs. constructive possession of drugs to learn more.

Incorrect Laboratory Results

Occasionally, substances suspected to be illegal drugs turn out to be harmless. Common kitchen herbs such as oregano and rosemary might be confused with marijuana, and certain powdery substances could be mistaken for cocaine. Law enforcement officials must submit these seized materials to a forensic laboratory, where a specialist conducts an analysis and may later offer evidence in legal proceedings. Should the analysis reveal that the substances are not illicit, any related charges would be dismissed.

Questioning the Chain of Custody

Evidence can only be presented against you by prosecutors if it has been properly documented and maintained through a verified chain of custody. A notable defense tactic in confronting federal drug charges is to challenge the identity of the drugs submitted in court. Scrutinize if they are the same substances confiscated from you, your property, or vehicle.

By questioning the integrity of the chain of custody, your lawyer could demonstrate that the drugs were mishandled by law enforcement and prosecution, thus rendering them invalid as evidence in a legal setting.

Illegal Search and Seizure

The U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unwarranted intrusions and takings by governmental bodies. If officials search and seize your person, vehicle, or property without proper authorization, violating your Constitutional rights, the evidence gathered may not be allowed in court. This could potentially lead to the dismissal of your case.

Objects (like narcotics) that are in plain view and can be seen without entering the property, may be lawfully seized and used as evidence; nonetheless, any additional probing requires a legally issued warrant.


Confronting drug charges can be an alarming and stressful situation. However, by familiarizing yourself with your legal rights and alternatives, you can partner with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to formulate a robust defense approach.


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