U.S. crime statistics aren’t wonderful. Nearly one percent of adults are incarcerated, while about two percent are either on probation or on parole. Those rates are the highest in the world, and part of the problem is drugs; or rather the way we view drug use. We treat drug users as criminals who belong behind bars instead of treating them as patients who belong in a rehabilitation center. Until we change the way we view drugs, we’ll continue to waste valuable resources to incarcerate users. What should you do if you’re charged with a drug-related crime?
First of all, try to find a qualified lawyer you can trust. Don’t get trapped with a public defender unless that’s the absolute last option available to you. Ask friends and family for help, or search for other financial resources available to those in need of assistance.
There are plenty of potential defenses to drug possession charges, but they’re tough to make work. First, beware of confession. Your best defense is keeping any information you have to yourself. Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors about what happened. Instead, ask for counsel. One option is to create a burden for the prosecutors on the case. No one wants to spend too much time working on a simple possession charge.
If lab results seem to prove the substance to be a drug, then it’s possible to challenge the result. The tech responsible for the proof must provide it in court if things go that far.
A lawyer can also inform you of any programs that you might be able to utilize as part of a deal with the prosecution. Many times these include rehabilitation (whether you need it or not), fines, community service, etc. If you complete the terms of the agreement, it’s possible a record of your charges will be dropped.
If the search and seizure of the drugs were done in an illegal way (it happens more often than you think), then you might be able to get the charges dropped. If you can prove that you weren’t aware of the existence of the drugs or that someone else placed them there, then the charges might be dropped. If an officer asks to search your person or your vehicle, you have the right to say no–even if the officer suggests or implies that you don’t.