Drug crimes range from relatively minor Possession of Marijuana cases, where dismissals are more easily obtainable, to much more serious first-degree felony charges like Manufacturing Controlled Substances, where the State almost always wants prison time. There are two primary focuses in drug cases: 1) whether the initial search and arrest was legal, and 2) whether the State has enough evidence to link you to the drugs.
Seasoned officers are well-trained to "document" just enough probable cause so that their search and arrest is found to be legal. For instance, if your search resulted from a traffic stop, you will likely see the words "furtive gesture" in your offense report. This is simply the officer's way of saying that he saw some kind of behavior that looked suspicious. That being said, a careful look at the underlying facts of the traffic stop and/or search often reveals an argument that the drugs were illegally seized. If the judge can be convinced at a hearing that your Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches and seizures has been violated, your case will be dismissed. I have successfully fought many illegal seizures and kept drug crimes off my clients' criminal records.
If the search and arrest were legal, the State still has to prove that you were in possession of the drugs. On the one hand, the law of possession is so strong in that every person in a room can be charged with possessing drugs found in that room—even a guest who has just arrived. On the other hand, the State has to established sufficient "affirmative links" to prove that you were in possession of those drugs. For example, if you have just entered a room that you have never been in before, it is harder for the State to prove you were in control of those drugs—this is especially true if the drugs were not in plain sight and you had no way of knowing they were there. This can also be the case when you are driving someone else's car and can prove that it's not registered to you, that you had recently borrowed it, and that the drugs were hidden from view.
Even if the initial search and arrest is valid and the drugs are clearly in your possession, there are still several creative solutions we can discuss with the State that will prevent you from ever having a conviction on your criminal record.
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