If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance in North Carolina, you may be wondering how your lawyer is going to keep the judge from throwing the book at you. Penalties for drug crimes are very case-specific. Depending on the unique conditions of your case, your attorney may choose one or more from various defense strategies — anywhere from claiming unreasonable action to just plain denial.
Possession of a controlled substance is illegal in North Carolina under Article 5. Section 90-86 of state legislation. There are two main categories of possession charges: simple possession and possession with intent to distribute.
Depending on the severity of the crime, someone accused of drug possession could be facing a small fine or serious jail time — penalties vary according to a number of factors, including the defendant’s prior offenses and drug classification and amount.
Defense options include challenging claims made by law enforcement or prosecution, pointing out errors in procedure, or presenting evidence on behalf of the accused.
The Drugs Belong to Someone Else
This is a common defense in any criminal case — denial. Those accused of drug possession will often claim they have no idea how the drugs got there, so they must belong to someone else.
It may sometimes be difficult to prove exactly who the drugs belong to if multiple people were present at the time of the arrest. A skilled attorney will push prosecutors to prove that the substance belonged to their client.
The Drugs Were Found Illegally
Unreasonable search and seizure happen when a law enforcement official confiscates evidence during a search without a warrant and without probable cause that evidence of a crime is present. American citizens are protected from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
The Drugs Are Missing
In some cases, evidence gets mishandled along the chain of custody, and sometimes it even gets lost. This happens more often than you might think, especially when the evidence is a small amount of a controlled substance. Especially in instances where multiple officers are involved in an arrest, mistakes are sometimes made when an officer assumes another is handling the evidence.
The two most common defenses that can become possible as a result of officer misconduct are entrapment and evidence planting. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials persuade or influence a person to commit a crime they would not otherwise commit.
If someone is charged with possession and the drugs were provided by law enforcement, entrapment may be a likely defense. Though it may be rare, some law enforcement officials have been caught planting evidence.
If a controlled substance has been prescribed to you by a licensed medical practitioner, you are not breaking any laws by possessing that substance. Just be sure to keep the medicine in its proper container to avoid any unnecessary hassle by police.
Similarly, if you are in a state where medical marijuana has been legalized, you will be able to separate yourself from any illegal or criminal activity. Simply supply a note from a licensed medical doctor explaining that you have been authorized to use medical marijuana.