Drug possession charges in Florida carry life-altering penalties. Even if a defendant avoids incarceration, the criminal record that results from a conviction or guilty plea will be available to everyone from colleges determining enrollment and financial aid to prospective landlords and employers.
For those accused of drug offenses, a robust defense is almost always a better option than pleading guilty and placing oneself at the mercy of the Florida criminal courts. What are some of the most common drug defense strategies in Florida?
Challenging the search
Police officers can arrest someone based on what they find on their person, in their vehicle or in their home. However, the defendant could exclude the evidence from court proceedings or even have the charges thrown out if they can show that the search was a violation of their rights.
Denying constructive possession
If the police find drugs in a building or vehicle that you own or use, you didn’t necessarily know that they were there or have any control over them. Your shared access to the vehicle or home can play a role in your defense.
Proving that you were unaware of the presence of a substance isn’t necessary. Instead, prosecutors will have to prove that you knew the drugs were there and had direct control over them.
Challenging the chain of custody
When police officers gather evidence, they have to make official records of when and how they collect the evidence. They must be submitted to state facilities for testing and storage. If there are gaps or mistake in the chain of custody records for a piece of evidence, a defense attorney could potentially challenge the inclusion of that evidence because of the bad record-keeping.
Police officers sometimes go undercover to catch people breaking the law. If a police officer coerced or tricked you into trying a drug or buying it from them, you may be able to claim entrapment. If you can convince the courts you wouldn’t have done what you did without the officer’s involvement, the courts may acquit you.
Looking at all of the more popular means of defending against drug charges can help you choose a strategy that has a good chance of effectiveness given your situation.