While much of the rest of the country is moving forward to legalize the use and distribution of marijuana, Texas has remained steadfast. Even today, marijuana is one of a long list of drugs on the list for drug possession charges, which are criminal offenses in the state of Texas.
The penalties for possession range from small fines to months behind bars, and can have a serious impact on your ability to gain employment. (Possession of cocaine or heroin are state jail felonies in the state of Texas.)
Luckily, drug possession charges are not the most serious offenses that the court has to deal with. If you make the effort to hire a criminal defense lawyer and build a strong case, you will have a better chance of achieving a positive outcome.
Below are some of the most common defense strategies for drug possession charges. Before you choose any of these defenses to use in court, talk to a defense lawyer about how appropriate and relevant these will be for your situation.
Not Your Drugs
This can be too common of an excuse, but if you have actual proof that the drugs in question belong to someone else, you may be able to get out of a conviction. This evidence could include messages to and from friends, video footage, or proof that someone else owns the property where the drugs were found.
In some cases, the drugs may be planted. There are multiple cases of possible drug planting making big headlines in 2017. In one instance, body cam footage showed police officers in Baltimore possibly planting drugs. If you can access body cam footage and show that drugs were planted, you may be able to walk away from the court with an apology instead of penalties.
Similar to planting drugs, police and criminal investigators may coerce someone into purchasing or holding drugs to make an arrest or charge someone on drug possession. This is another valid defense strategy, but only if you can show that your actions were the result of coercion or force.
Take note that a law enforcement officer lying to see if you have drugs is not considered entrapment. An undercover police officer is still an officer, and deceit can still result in a valid drug possession charge and conviction.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
Police may abuse their power or take advantage of citizens when they look for drugs. Know your rights and know when police are allowed to search your property or vehicle. If police find drugs as the result of an illegal search and seizure, the drugs will be dropped as evidence and the main element of your case will be missing.
If, for example, the police search your car without your permission and without a warrant, you can argue that they committed an unlawful search and seizure of your property. Police must also have a reason to pull you over.
Not an Illegal Substance
White powder isn’t necessarily an illegal substance. If the court cannot prove that the substance you were caught with is a controlled substance, the charges may be dismissed. Remember, in our legal system, you are innocent until proven guilty.
Explore Diversion Programs and Rehabilitation
In many cases, drug possession charges can be the result of addiction and a genuine call for help. Prosecutors and judges may take sympathy on someone who has received their first charge and is making the effort to recover and stay sober. If you make the plea for rehabilitation and sobriety, the judge may be able to offer you an alternative to prison through a diversion program.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in Texas, but not for everyone. The Texas Compassionate Use Act allows a small group of people to qualify for medicinal marijuana use. Most of these people have epilepsy and have to turn to marijuana after the failed use of other legal prescription drugs.
Only 18 doctors can sign off on patients for medical marijuana use, so if you are just caught randomly with pot, you won’t be able to use this as an excuse. However, if you have been approved under the Texas Compassionate Use Act, you will be able to use marijuana for your symptoms and can use this law to fight marijuana charges.
Talk to a Drug Possession Defense Lawyer to Start Building Your Case
Ready to fight your drug possession charges?
Whether you were charged for holding prescription drugs, marijuana, or cocaine, you still have a chance of beating your charges.
Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer today and begin building your case.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.