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Drug Possession Defense Strategies

Fighting Drug Possession Charges in Tennessee

Facing a drug possession charge can be frightening and stressful. The potential consequences, ranging from fines to jail time, can significantly impact your life. If you're facing such a charge, it is crucial to understand the legal landscape and the defense strategies available to you. This blog series delves into the various approaches you can take to fight drug possession charges.

Challenge Search Validity

The police must have a valid justification, such as a warrant or probable cause, to search you or your belongings. If the search is deemed unlawful, any evidence obtained, including the drugs themselves, becomes inadmissible in court. This can significantly weaken the prosecution's case and potentially lead to a dismissal of the charges.

An attorney can meticulously examine the details of your situation to identify potential grounds for contesting the search. For example, imagine you're a passenger in a car that gets pulled over for a broken taillight. The officer, without reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, asks everyone to step out and proceeds to search the vehicle. In this scenario, your lawyer might argue that the officer lacked probable cause to search the car, particularly if the search extended to areas where only a passenger could have hidden drugs (e.g., under the seat). If the judge agrees, the drugs found during the search would be inadmissible, potentially leaving the prosecution with insufficient evidence to proceed.

Challenge the Evidence

Another avenue for defense against drug possession charges involves scrutinizing the validity and strength of the evidence presented by the prosecution. This approach can encompass several tactics. One strategy focuses on the chain of custody, the documented record of every individual who handled the seized drugs. Inconsistencies or gaps in the chain of custody raise questions about potential tampering or contamination, casting doubt on the evidence's integrity.

Also, if the quantity of the alleged drug falls within a range typically associated with personal use, especially for a first offense, your lawyer might argue against the intent to distribute, potentially leading to a lesser charge or dismissal.

Argue Entrapment

This defense rests on the legal principle that law enforcement cannot induce or pressure a person into committing a crime they wouldn't have otherwise considered. For entrapment to be successful, your attorney must demonstrate that a law enforcement officer or informant:

  • Initiated the idea of purchasing or possessing drugs. The mere opportunity to commit a crime isn't enough.
  • Used undue pressure or persuaded you to participate in a way that would overcome your resistance. This could involve offering excessive money, exploiting vulnerabilities, or threatening negative consequences for refusing.

The burden of proof for entrapment lies with the defendant, meaning you'll need to provide evidence to support the claim. This evidence could include witness testimony, recordings of interactions with the officer, or inconsistencies in the officer's report that suggest inducement. However, it's important to understand that courts generally view entrapment defenses with skepticism. Entrapment is most likely to succeed in situations where the law enforcement tactics were particularly egregious.

Lack of Knowledge

In some drug possession cases, you might be able to defend yourself by demonstrating a lack of knowledge or control over the illegal substances. This strategy hinges on the concept that to be convicted, the prosecution must prove you knowingly possessed the drugs.

Here are some scenarios where this defense could be applicable:

  • Shared living space. If drugs are found hidden somewhere in a residence you share with others, and you can credibly argue you weren't aware of their presence, it can raise reasonable doubt. This might be especially true if the drugs were found in a roommate's room or a hidden location you wouldn't typically access.
  • Borrowed belongings. If you were carrying drugs unknowingly because they were planted in a bag or purse you borrowed from someone else, you might be able to argue a lack of knowledge. This emphasizes the importance of maintaining control over your belongings and being cautious when borrowing items from others.
  • Misidentified substance. If you were unknowingly in possession of a controlled substance that you believed to be something harmless, it could potentially be a defense. However, this argument is more challenging and may require evidence to support your claim of mistaken identity.

Temporary Possession

A less common but potentially effective defense strategy against drug possession charges involves proving temporary possession with the intent to dispose of the controlled substance. This defense hinges on demonstrating two key elements:

  1. Brief possession. You must establish that you only possessed the drugs for a short period. This could involve finding the drugs unexpectedly, attempting to throw them away upon discovery, being pressured into holding them for someone else momentarily, or having the drugs as you were getting a legal prescription a household member.
  2. Intent to dispose. It is important to demonstrate you had no intention of using the drugs yourself or distributing them. You might have found them on the ground and planned to discard them in a trash can. Alternatively, perhaps a friend pressured you to hold their drugs for a brief moment while they went to the restroom, and you intended to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Experienced Defense Counsel

The attorneys at Eldridge and Cravens, PC have decades of collective experience. If you or a loved one are facing drug possession charges, you can trust our team to help you fight for the best possible outcome and develop a personalized defense.

Call (865) 544-2010 to request a consultation.