Defenses to Drug Crimes
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, it’s easy to lose hope. Maybe you had drugs on you when you were arrested, or police officers found a large amount of narcotics when they searched your car. Whatever events led up to your arrest, you very likely could have a defense to the charges you face. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is a dedicated Boston drug crime lawyer with extensive experience developing compelling defenses to even the toughest cases.Ways to Beat a Boston Drug Charge
No matter how serious the allegations or how strong the evidence may seem, every crime has its defenses. Drug offenses are no exception. Below is a description of three of the most common defenses to drug crimes.Fighting Possession: The “It Wasn’t Mine” Defense
If you were arrested and the drugs were not found on you, you can argue that you didn’t legally “possess” them. To be found guilty of a drug crime, the prosecution must prove that you either actually possessed drugs or that you had “constructive possession” over the drugs. Actual possession is just what it sounds like; for example, you had the drugs in your pocket.
Constructive possession, on the other hand, is a little more complicated. Constructive possession is a legal fiction that allows the prosecution to attribute possession of an item to someone when that item was not found on their person. However, to prove constructive possession, the prosecution must show that you knew the drugs were there and intended on exercising “dominion and control” over them.
Common situations where constructive possession comes into play include:
- Car searches where you were not the owner of the vehicle;
- Traffic stops with multiple people in the vehicle;
- Observed transactions where the drugs were kept in a stash location; and
- Searches of a home with multiple occupants.
If you are charged with a drug offense and the narcotics were not on you at the time of your arrest, a criminal defense attorney can help you fight the prosecution’s attempts to pin the drugs on you.A Motion to Suppress: The “Police Didn’t Follow the Rules” Defense
A motion to suppress is a pretrial motion asking the court to keep certain evidence out of the trial. In the context of Boston drug crimes, most often, a motion to suppress is based on illegal police activity that led to the discovery of the drugs. A motion to suppress is perhaps the most important among all the defenses to drug crimes.
Police officers are required to respect your constitutional rights when conducting any type of search or seizure. This includes stopping you in your car or while you’re walking down the street. The general rule is that police officers need a warrant before they can legally search you, your vehicle, home, or belongings. As you probably know, most arrests do not involve search warrants. This is because there are exceptions that allow officers to stop and potentially search you if they have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe you were involved in criminal activity. However, they cannot act on their “hunch” that you did something wrong; they must point to verifiable facts supporting their actions.
It is the prosecutor’s burden to prove that a police officer’s actions were justified and that they had legal justification to stop and search you. If you believe police officers violated your rights when stopping or searching you, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss the possibility of a motion to suppress.A Technical Challenge to the Chemical Analysis: The “Prove it!” Defense
Massachusetts criminal law requires the prosecution to clearly state the basis of the charges it’s bringing against you in a document called an indictment. For example, you can’t be convicted for the possession of narcotics simply because the police think the substance they recovered from you was a drug; the government must prove what you had on you was indeed an illegal substance. Not only that, but they must also prove that it is the substance named in the indictment and establish a clear chain of custody. Given these strict requirements, a dedicated criminal defense lawyer can often raise technical defenses to drug crimes.Are You Facing Boston Drug Charges?
If you were recently arrested and charged with a drug crime, Boston criminal defense lawyer Patrick J. Murphy can help you mount an effective defense. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has more than 25 years of experience successfully handling all types of drug crimes, ranging from first-time possession charges to high-level drug trafficking crimes. To learn more, and to schedule a free and confidential consultation, call (617) 367-0450.