The war on drugs had barely started when it took a very bizarre turn. In 1970, Elvis Presley paid a surprise visit to the White House. The singer told President Richard Nixon he would be an excellent undercover marshal because he was intimately familiar with “drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques.” I’m not sure what one has to do with the other, but that’s what The King said.
Today, that war-on-drugs catchphrase is not used much anymore. But no matter the name, the campaign continues. So, law enforcement is very aggressive in drug matters, and the laws are very tough as well. Drug cases may have both procedural and substantive defenses.
Search Warrant Issues
Some drug cases are very complex. Multiple law enforcement agencies might spend months gathering enough evidence to search a suspected drug house or stop a large drug transaction. But general information about illegal drugs, and a general search warrant, are not legally sufficient.
To establish probable cause for the warrant, law enforcement must have specific information about the substances or the transactions. After all, it’s not illegal to buy, sell, or possess drugs. Such behavior is only criminal if the drugs are illegal.
This information must also come from a reliable informant. If police are paying the informant huge sums of money for information, that information is suspect. Similarly, if the informant has a poor track record, current information is probably not reliable either.
Furthermore, the warrant must also be specific in terms of location and items to be seized. “201 Main Street is a drug house” is not a very specific tip, especially if 201 Main Street in an apartment building or some other multi-family dwelling. The same result applies if the warrant says that drugs are “somewhere” in the house. Officers cannot search the bedroom if the drugs are supposedly in the living room. The law respects people’s privacy, and law enforcement officers must do likewise.
Drug Possession Defenses
Other drug cases are very simple. For example, an officer might enter an apartment, find a stash of illegally-obtained prescription pain pills, and arrest everyone in the apartment. This action will probably not hold up in court, even if the apartment is a one-bedroom or studio.
In Parker County drug cases, “possession” is not synonymous with “proximity.” In fact, people can literally be sitting on contraband and not possess it. In addition to proximity, prosecutors must establish:
· Specific knowledge about the nature and location of the substance, as well as
· Control over the substance.
So, if the prescription drugs are under the bed, Ben is sleeping on the bed, and he does not know about the stash, he cannot be successfully prosecuted for drug possession.
Drug cases may have both procedural and substantive defenses. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.