Among the most commonly charged category of crimes in New York and New Jersey are drug offenses. If you find yourself facing drug-related charges, it is important to evaluate all potential defenses and protect your rights.
Two common defenses to drug charges involve challenging the constitutionality of a police search and the sufficiency of evidence connecting any drugs to the accused.
Every person has a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
In most cases, police need a warrant to search a person or private location, such as a person’s home, although in some circumstances police can search without a warrant if there is probable cause the location contains drugs or other contraband.
If a defendant establishes police found drugs during an unlawful search, the court generally must suppress evidence of the drugs. Without evidence of drugs, the government cannot prove drug possession.
As a result, challenging the constitutionality of a police search is a common defense to a drug charge.
Government’s burden to prove possession
In every case, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intentionally possessed drugs. Another common defense to drug charges is arguing that the government failed prove drugs belonged to an accused.
Consider, for example, a case in which police find drugs in an apartment occupied by multiple people. Without evidence that the drugs belonged to the accused, as opposed to one of the other occupants, the government generally cannot prove the defendant’s intentional possession of drugs.
Consult an attorney
If you are facing drug charges, it is critical that you consult an experienced attorney. An attorney can advise regarding your rights and assist with identifying potential defenses.