There is a photo circulating online showing a criminal defense attorney’s billboard that says: “JUST BECAUSE YOU DID IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE GUILTY.” While we don’t advertise our legal services in this way, the felony lawyers at Berry Law know there may be legal ways to minimize felony charges. Depending on your situation, we may be able to explain how to beat a felony drug charge under the right circumstances.
Felony drug charges can include possession of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, crack, and other narcotics, even including prescription drugs. The most common controlled substance charges involve marijuana. Simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction. However, possession of over a pound of marijuana or of any amount of THC concentrate or hash is a felony.
Often, if someone is caught in possession of an illegal drug, they are arrested and charged with a felony. Possession of illegal drugs does not always result in a criminal conviction. Echoing the billboard advertisement above, it is true that not everyone caught in possession of narcotics will be convicted of a felony drug charge.
There May Be Several Ways to Beat a Felony Drug Charge
An experienced felony drug charge attorney will know how to analyze your pending felony charges and ask the right questions to understand whether you have the grounds or a legal argument to challenge your criminal drug charges. Most defendants don’t know how to beat a felony drug charge, but with our decades of criminal defense experience, the team at Berry Law can be your best ally during your criminal proceedings.
Some of the potential legal questions that could help you beat a felony drug charge include:
Was the Drug Search Legal?
The first question criminal defense attorneys must answer is whether the drugs in question were obtained as the result of a legal or illegal search. If law enforcement conducted an illegal search of your house, car, or person, the illegally obtained evidence must be suppressed. This means that any evidence found as a result of an illegal search or seizure cannot be used at your trial.
This rule is commonly known as the exclusionary rule. This rule of law basically states that police cannot benefit, and the government cannot build a criminal case from violating a person’s constitutional rights. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. When a criminal defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights are violated, any evidence found by police cannot be used against the defendant at trial.
Usually, without drug evidence seized at an arrest, the prosecutor will have a very difficult time establishing the necessary elements needed to prove the charge of felony possession of a controlled substance. As a result, if there is no drug evidence, the charges will most likely be dropped.
Did the Defendant Have Knowledge of the Drug?
Another way the criminal defense attorneys at Berry Law can help beat a felony drug charge is by showing the defendant lacked any knowledge or awareness of the existence of illegal drugs. Consider this scenario, law enforcement finds a small amount of methamphetamine in a car. Usually everyone in the vehicle is arrested regardless of who was in physical possession of the drug.
We know it is difficult for law enforcement to prove felony drug possession cases beyond a reasonable doubt when several people are involved. Here’s why: if law enforcement pulls over a car with four occupants and methamphetamine is found in one of the occupants’ purses, it is possible that the other three occupants were not aware of the presence of methamphetamine.
Think about it. How many times have you sat next to someone carrying a purse in a car, train, bus, or airplane? You did not know what was in that purse. To convict someone of drug possession, the government must show that that person knowingly possessed the illegal drug. If there is no proof that you knew about the drugs or were aware that the drugs were in the vehicle, that’s one more way how we can beat a felony drug charge.
Are There Lab Tests of the Alleged Drug?
Another way that people charged with drug crimes may beat the felony charge comes from the lack of proof that the substance seized by the police is in fact an illegal narcotic. To convict someone of a drug crime, the government must prove that the alleged illegal substance found in the defendant’s possession is in fact a controlled substance that meets the statutory requirements.
Often, the government obtains a field test of the drug and sends it to a crime laboratory, where it is tested. In some rare cases, drug samples are lost, equipment isn’t calibrated properly, or the sample is inadvertently destroyed.
In these instances, a skilled felony defense attorney may be able to suppress the results of the test, or argue that since there is no evidence that the substance was illegal, the court should enter an acquittal. The general argument is simple and straightforward — the government can not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance obtained was in fact an illegal drug without chemical testing and documented results.
How the Dedicated Defense Attorneys at Berry Law Can Help Beat a Felony Drug Charge
Unfortunately, at Berry Law, our attorneys have worked with a lot of students and young professionals who were charged with possession of a controlled substance. In these cases, the young adult with a bright future ahead of them is now facing a felony charge. A felony conviction not only carries a possible term of incarceration, but a lifelong handicap when applying for jobs. The sad reality is that most employers do not hire convicted felons.
Fortunately, there may be several opportunities to beat a felony conviction for a drug charge and we know how to access these options. To start, several counties throughout the state of Nebraska offer special drug courts that follow a different process than typical criminal courts.
The goal of drug court is to divert a felony defendant who is non-violent and drug-using from jail time to a court-supervised program for substance abuse. A drug court judge may establish certain requirements for a defendant including:
- A substance abuse evaluation,
- Substance abuse counseling,
- Attending support groups,
- Random drug testing, and
- Other personalized actions or steps to help the defendant overcome addiction and comply with the law.
If a person successfully completes the drug court requirements, the charges are dismissed.
Also, some counties in Nebraska allow for pretrial diversion, where the individual charged with the crime can participate in a probation-like program in order to have the charges dismissed. In other instances, felony drug charges may be negotiated down to less serious misdemeanor charges to avoid a felony conviction.
Contact Berry Law to Find Out if You Can Beat a Felony Drug Charge
The consequences for felony drug convictions can be devastating, but it’s possible for those found with illegal narcotics to beat a felony drug charge under the right circumstances. If you or a family member has been arrested for felony drug possession, you may have options you never knew existed. Contact the dedicated criminal defense lawyers at Berry Law for more information.