Drug possession cases, mostly marijuana cases, make up about 85 percent of the drug arrests in Parker County. Depending on the type and amount of substance, these offenses are usually felonies. If the defendant has no criminal record, pretrial diversion or deferred adjudication may be an option. But in very serious cases, or if you have been through the system before, Parker County prosecutors rarely make these generous offers.
Fortunately, there are a number of effective defenses to drug possession charges. A good Weatherford drug crimes lawyer can usually leverage these defenses into a more favorable plea bargain agreement or a not-guilty verdict at trial.
When police officers seize drugs, they practically never have search warrants. So, the seizure must be reasonable under Fourth Amendment law. Unless the officer has a warrant based on probable cause, a recognized exception must apply. Some common exceptions, and their flaws, include:
Stop and Frisk: If officers have reasonable suspicion, they may stop people on the street, pat them down for weapons, and confiscate any drugs or contraband they find. "Reasonable suspicion" is more than a hunch. The officer must have specific, articulable facts which point to criminal activity. Additionally, during a pat-down, it's difficult for even experienced officers to tell the difference between a baggie of drugs and a ham sandwich.
Consent: Many times, officers ask defendants if they have weapons or anything illegal in their cars or on their persons. You have the right to refuse to answer that question, and an officer's threat to get a warrant is probably a bluff. Additionally, officers can obtain consent from the car, dwelling, or other owner. This person must at least have apparent authority to give such consent.
Plain View: When officers stop motorists or respond to disturbance calls, they may seize any contraband they see in plain view. Partial plain view cases, such as a gun handle protruding from under the seat, are in a grey area.
Other exceptions include the automobile exception and the exigent circumstances exception. These doctrines allow officers to search cars and enter dwellings without warrants.
Legal Elements of "Possession"
Maybe because they both start with the same letter, many people assume that possession is synonymous with proximity. But under Texas law, a defendant could be sitting on a drug stash and not legally possess the contraband.
In addition to proximity, prosecutors must also establish knowledge and control. And, they must establish these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendant did not know that there were drugs in the car and the defendant did not exercise control over them, the defendant did not possess the drugs.
A vehicle possession case is a good example. It's almost impossible for a defendant in the back seat to possess drugs in the front seat, especially if the drugs were in a locked glove compartment.
Drug possession cases are hard to prove in court. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.