Drug possession charges are the court’s most commonly seen criminal cases, both here in Maryland and throughout the country. The severity of the charge depends on the circumstance (such as the drug in question and how much of it is found); nevertheless, any drug possession charge is a serious one, with potentially life-changing consequences.
If you’ve been charged with possession of a drug, you might be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Here is some helpful advice for fighting the charge.
Know your rights – and determine if they were violated. The first step in fighting a drug possession charge is determining if your Fourth Amendment rights (the amendment that protects you against unlawful search and seizure) were affected at the time of your arrest. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the police have probable cause – and legal authority – to search you? For example, if you were driving, did the police stop you without enough evidence or suspicion of a crime to justify doing so? If you were at home, did they enter without a warrant? Police need to demonstrate a reasonable basis for conducting a search; if they don’t, they are violating your rights and you can push to have the charges dropped.
- Did they ask for – and receive – your consent to be searched? Even if police had probable cause to search you, if you didn’t consent to be searched or they didn’t ask you before they searched you, any evidence they gathered is inadmissible in court.
- Did the police read you your Miranda rights when they arrested you? If so, did they respect your request to remain silent under questioning? If your rights were not properly respected, you can argue that anything you said at the time of your arrest cannot be admissible in court.
Explore medical exceptions. One way to fight drug possession charges is to argue that you need the drugs in question for medical reasons. Obviously, this approach won’t work with certain narcotics, but if you’ve been caught with a small amount of marijuana, you could make the case that you need it for medicinal purposes.
Consider a diversion program. If this is the first time you’ve been charged with a drug offense, you might be able to undergo counseling, community service, coursework, or other “rehabilitation”-type avenues in lieu of fines or jail time. In addition to providing you with an alternative to a more serious sentence, diversion programs benefit the state as well, since they eliminate the money, time, and hassle of a protracted court case.
Hire an experienced lawyer. Aligning yourself with an experienced, aggressive lawyer is the smartest decision you can make when fighting a drug charge. A lawyer who has handled these types of cases before knows the ins and outs of the system and can help you determine the best course of action – whether that’s examining diversion programs, pleading down to a lesser offense or simply burying the prosecution in so many document requests and other red tape that they eventually give up and drop or lessen the charges.
If you’ve been arrested on a drug charge in Maryland, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.