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What are potential defenses against drug charges?

Being arrested and convicted for drug possession or intent to distribute can often carry severe penalties in Virginia. Therefore, those accused of drug charges frequently attempt to either clear their name or reduce the charges. Whether based on presumed personal use or the intent to sell, drug possession charges can greatly impact the personal and professional life of the accused, even if it is the first time he or she is charged.

When arrested and accused of drug possession or intent to distribute, many feel that their situations are hopeless. However, defenses against specific charges are dependent on the specific circumstances surrounding the incidents. There are several defenses that can be used against charges related to drug possession.

One major defense is unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures, and defendants could cite this constitutional protection. However, in cases where drugs were in plain view and seized during a lawful traffic stop, defendants most likely will not be able to successfully claim that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

Another defense that a defendant could assert is that the drugs discovered and seized did not belong to him or her. Defendants could claim that they did not realize they were in possession of the substances. For example, this could occur when an individual is borrowing a vehicle and was not aware of the contents within the vehicle.

Finally, defendants could seek an independent analysis of the substances to prove that they were not what authorities claim. They could also claim missing drugs if prosecutors in the case cannot produce the actual drugs that they allegedly seized. Asserting this defense could help an accused get the charges reduced or dropped.

There are several other claims that the accused and their attorneys can make that can weaken the case and assist in the reduction or dismissal of charges. Most facing drug charges in Virginia seek the counsel of an experienced criminal law attorney. An attorney will be able to evaluate the charges and circumstances and provide the best legal options available.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Possession Defenses", Accessed on Nov. 30, 2016

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