Drug possession is the unlawful carrying, handling, or owning of certain substances that have been deemed illegal under state and federal law. Anyone who is found guilty of these offenses faces a range of consequences, with the most severe outcomes often provided to repeat offenders. However, not every drug possession accusation is proven to be true in court. If you are facing drug possession allegations and hold the position that you are innocent, a Tampa drug possession lawyer can assist.
At Jeff Marshall Law, our criminal defense attorneys offer effective defense representation to those in Tampa who need help making their case. We understand the gravity of these allegations, which is why we can spend countless hours supervising your case and ensuring that no one violates your rights in the process. Having a skilled attorney on your team can make the difference between a guilty verdict and dismissed or reduced charges.
In cases involving drug possession charges in Tampa, FL, a skilled drug lawyer can leverage their history of lessons learned from similar cases, along with their legal knowledge, to employ numerous different defense strategies. Some of the most common include:
One of the most commonly used defenses against drug possession charges is to challenge the legality of how the evidence was identified and collected. If an attorney is able to prove that law enforcement obtained the substances without first securing an official warrant, based on probable cause, this could mean that the drugs found at the scene cannot be used as evidence in court.
Constructive possession occurs when someone has access and control over the specific area where the drugs were found, but they were not caught physically holding them. Actual possession happens when someone is found in physical possession of drugs.
If you were not caught holding the drugs but are still being charged due to your access to where they were found, a defense attorney could craft an argument that you had no direct knowledge that the drugs were there. This could mitigate the severity of the charges.
In some cases, an attorney may be able to argue that the materials that were confiscated by law enforcement were not illegal drugs. For example, an attorney could present evidence to the court showing that the substances are legal to possess, such as prescription medicine. It is not uncommon for officers to mistake a legal substance as illegal, and having specific records, such as a doctor’s note and prescription history, can help prove your innocence.
There is a huge difference between simple possession and drug trafficking under the law. When someone is trafficking drugs, this means that they are moving large quantities of illegal substances with the intent to distribute them on a mass scale. This is not only illegal, but it is also extremely risky. It can also negatively affect a large portion of the communities where they are sold.
If an attorney is able to prove that their client was not trafficking, but rather possessed a smaller amount of the substance, it can lead to significantly reduced charges and penalties than they would be if the defendant is found guilty of drug trafficking.
Another popular defense is to suggest that an individual only had possession of the drugs at the time they were discovered because they were trying to dispose of them. If there is no other evidence that the individual was trying to use or sell the substances, this can help support the credibility of a temporary disposal defense.
Sometimes, an attorney believes that their client has been mistakenly identified as the alleged perpetrator. This can happen when the description of a suspect is vague or if an eyewitness testimony turns out to be unreliable.
To prove this, an attorney must focus their efforts on discrediting any evidence that loosely points to their client’s guilt. They could also provide an alibi or a witness who can testify that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime.
Legally collecting evidence will be one of the most critical stages of the defense process, as it can make or break the validity of the allegations that have been made. Some of the most compelling evidence to collect with your lawyer include:
Medical documents, such as a doctor’s prescription, pharmacy records, or medical marijuana card, can be instrumental in demonstrating why you have the legal authority to own and take certain drugs. This can discredit any attempt from a prosecutor who tries to claim that you unlawfully obtained and possessed these drugs.
Video evidence of an individual’s whereabouts can counteract any argument claiming that you were somewhere else engaging in illegal drug activities. It can also show if someone else entered your property illegally and planted the drugs.
This would help prove that you were unaware of the drugs, especially if there is additional evidence to suggest that you either did not have any secret plan with the individual who planted the drugs or that the true offender broke into your property rather than being given a key.
While a clean drug test result can show that you were not taking the drugs, this piece of evidence alone cannot defend someone against possession charges. However, it’s worth offering this piece of evidence to complement any other proof of innocence submitted to the court. It can help protect an individual’s character or raise doubts that the individual was in possession of substances to fuel their own addiction.
If you are able to show where all your income streams are and how they equal the amount of money found within your own bank account, it can help demonstrate that you were not involved in drug trafficking efforts to make extra money. This can help reduce trafficking charges, but extra evidence will be needed to explain why an individual may have been found in possession of these substances.
Sometimes, not having evidence actually turns out to be the most powerful position to be in from a defense standpoint. If an attorney is able to point out that there is an absence of evidence suggesting that their client was in actual possession of drugs, it can lead to a case dismissal.
This might involve demonstrating how their client was not present when the drugs were found or lacked any knowledge of their existence. If there are any witnesses who can speak to the individual’s lack of involvement with the drugs, this can also help prove an individual’s innocence.
Handling the complex legalities of drug possession cases is much easier with a seasoned criminal defense attorney on your team. In these scenarios, a lawyer can serve as a key navigator, from minuscule paperwork tasks all the way to defending your rights in court.
Some of the most valuable areas of their service include:
A defense attorney first examines the specific drug possession charges. This involves a closer look into what types of drugs were found and how much. These may seem like minor details, but they can have a large influence on what penalties their client may face and how they choose to defend their position.
If there is a history of criminal activity in a client’s background, the attorney can spend time reviewing every detail of these previous cases. Repeat offenders often face more severe consequences, so understanding how any previous charges relate to the current allegations can help an attorney tailor their defense strategy.
With many different defense angles to take for different cases, an attorney must compare the current set of facts they have and see what strategy they think might be the most effective. For example, they may choose to challenge the legality of an officer’s search, prove a lack of actual possession, or show how the substances were legally prescribed to the individual.
If the facts of the case do not point to true innocence, a defense attorney can also work with their client to negotiate a plea bargain, which can help reduce penalties.
A drug lawyer stands next to their client the entire time in court. They serve as an official legal representative, which includes responsibilities such as making an opening statement, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, and making a closing argument.
They can also help by objecting to any instances where a prosecutor may overstep their bounds and handle any unexpected pieces of evidence.
In instances where a defense attorney’s client has been found guilty of drug possession, they can communicate the feasibility of an appeal to their client, based on how the trial went. If an attorney has any evidence that a legal error was made in court, they can walk their client through the appeals process to maximize their odds of success.
A: If you are being arrested for drug possession, it’s important to remain silent other than to request a criminal defense attorney. You don’t want to provide any statements or make any comments without the guidance and supervision of your legal representation. This could risk the chances of saying something that could be used against you in court.
Your attorney can guide you through each milestone of your case, including defense strategy selections and evidence collection, to maximize your ability to achieve a favorable outcome. They can also watch for any attempts to take advantage of you or violate your rights.
A: There is a correlation between the quantity of drugs found on an individual and the severity of their punishment if they are found guilty of breaking any laws. When smaller amounts of drugs are found, it typically involves scenarios where the drugs are being used for personal use. These instances usually have lesser repercussions, especially for a first-time offender.
More intense punishments, such as hefty fines and jail time, exist for more severe crimes, such as drug trafficking. A criminal defense attorney is honest about the condition of your case and can try to find opportunities to lessen any unnecessary punishment.
A: Many different factors will be compiled for consideration when the court is planning to issue a drug conviction. If a background check reveals a history of repeated crimes being committed, especially ones that pertain to the current legal matter, this can dramatically increase the likelihood of a stiffer punishment.
If there are any additional aggravating circumstances in the case, like evidence of the intent to distribute or possession in a school zone, this can also hurt the defendant. A conviction can also have long-term impacts beyond a potential sentence or parole time, such as difficulty obtaining employment and housing.
A: The more technical or complex a drug possession case is, the more likely it would benefit from the insight gleaned from expert testimony. For example, a forensic scientist could help analyze the nature of the confiscated substance to identify exactly what it is. This could potentially challenge any claims from the prosecution.
Another example would be a medical professional who would be able to speak to why the individual was legally using those drugs to address a medical necessity. They could also look into the validity of any drug test that was administered and offer their opinion on its reliability.
If you have been accused of violating drug possession laws, it is critical to seek legal representation right away. Our team at Jeff Marshall Law has years of experience defending clients against drug-related allegations in Tampa. Contact us today for a consultation and learn more about how we can help you navigate each step of this process.