Ordinary possession charges, which could be misdemeanors or felonies, account for over 80 percent of the drug cases in Parker County. This high percentage is probably a byproduct of the 1980s war on drugs. Back then, perhaps because of the fictional and news media, most people saw drug possession as a criminal matter.
Today, however, things are different. Probably because of the opioid overdose epidemic, most jurors now see drug possession as a health and safety issue. That transformation gives Weatherford criminal defense attorneys an edge when it comes to resolving these cases.
Another reason there are so many drug possession cases is that, for some reason, law enforcement believes these cases are easy to prove in court. However, that’s usually not true. Most drug possession cases have three basic elements:
Produce the Substance: Prosecutors must produce the substance the defendant allegedly possessed. It’s illegal to seize physical evidence unless officers had a warrant or a narrow search warrant exception applied. Furthermore, when drugs or other evidence travels from one place to another, there may be chain of custody issues.
Illegal Substance: Next, prosecutors must establish that the substance was unlawful. Officers always testify that they used “field tests” to determine that that substance was illegal. But these tests are completely unscientific. Furthermore, most people do not have their medical prescriptions in their wallets.
Possession: In criminal court, proximity is not enough to establish possession. The state must also prove that the defendant knew where the drugs were, knew that they were drugs, and exercised control over them.
Prosecutors must establish each element beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, that means that the evidence on each point must be completely overwhelming.
The aforementioned legal environment is not the only thing that creates some additional disposition options. Drug possession cases usually go to designated drug courts. These courts usually emphasize rehabilitation instead of punishment, particularly in possession matters.
Because of its rehabilitative nature, pretrial diversion is normally an option, even if the state’s evidence is solid. If the defendant completes the program requirements, such as attending a self-improvement class and performing community service, prosecutors normally dismiss the charges. As a result, the defendant has no conviction record. And, the defendant’s arrest record is easier to expunge or seal.
Other times, an aggressive posture is better. By challenging the state’s evidence, an even better disposition, such as a dismissal of charges, might be possible.
Serious drug possession charges might have a reasonably happy ending. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.