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Are there defenses against accusations of drug offenses?

Being accused of a drug crime in New York can be a harrowing experience, particularly when such accusations are unfounded. After all, depending on the type of drugs allegedly found along with the amount, being convicted of a drug crime could land a person in prison for many years. This is especially true if the drug crime is a federal one. It is important to keep in mind, however, that there are defenses available to those accused of drug offenses.

One such defense is illegal search and seizure. In general, police must have probable cause or a valid search warrant to search the premises and seize evidence. However, it is important to remember that in some cases police may seize drugs that are in "plain view."

In addition, the prosecution usually must enter the actual drugs seized into evidence. Many times the actual drugs are lost between transfers on their way to the evidence locker. Do not assume that the drugs proffered as evidence are the actual ones seized.

Similarly, it is the prosecution's duty to prove that the items seized were in fact illicit drugs. Usually this involves a crime lab analysis. When this happens, the analyst who tested the alleged drugs in many cases must provide testimony that the drugs are what they say they are.

Another defense is simply that it wasn't you; the drugs belonged to someone else. It is possible to argue that the drugs belonged, for example, to a roommate of the apartment they were discovered in.

As this shows, being charged with a drug crime is not a hopeless situation. There are numerous ways evidence can be called into questions and arguments can be made in your defense. By understanding your rights, you, along with an attorney if you desire, can develop a strategic plan to prove your innocence.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Drug Possession Defenses," accessed Sep. 8, 2014

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