What To Expect When Facing A Drug Possession Charge
Whether you've been charged with drug possession or just questioned in relation to a case, it may be a good idea to get counsel as soon as possible. A criminal drug possession lawyer can go over the details of your situation and explain what the available options are for responding to the allegations. You'll benefit from understanding the following three aspects of the process:
What You Can Ask of the Court
For cases in which an individual is not accused of holding enough drugs to merit a trafficking charge, you can expect the case to proceed fairly quickly through the system. Drug possession cases tend to be like traffic law cases in the sense that the court places a lot of weight on what the arresting officer has to say.
If you require time to assemble a defense, one of the first things your lawyer will likely do is ask for a continuance. In most jurisdictions, you must enter a "not guilty" plea in order to obtain a continuance and have more time to prepare.
You may ask the court to take three possible actions during the preliminary hearings. These are seeking a dismissal, accepting a guilty plea or requesting that certain charges be reduced or thrown out.
Some jurisdictions also allow individuals with no prior convictions to seek a conditional discharge. This means that a guilty verdict will be stayed as long as the accused stays clean for a set amount of time.
There are a handful of potential defenses that a drug possession lawyer might offer to the court. One of the most common is an unwitting possession defense, one that's presented when, for example, a friend might have left drugs in your vehicle. Medical necessity is another defense, and there's a similar control defense that allows claims of constructive possession of drugs, such as laboratory research or transportation of a substance on behalf a licensed organization.
In many instances, counsel for the accused will negotiate with the prosecution to obtain a reduced sentence in exchange for entering a guilty plea. You do not, however, have a right to seek a plea deal if the prosecutor does not wish to offer one. You will have a chance during the next hearing to express concern that the charges and the sentence the prosecution is seeking may be out of line with what others have received.