Punishments for illegal drug possession or possession of a controlled substance in Illinois can be harsh, including jail time and heavy fines. If you’re convicted of drug possession, you may experience other consequences outside of the legal system, such as difficulty finding employment or ineligibility for federal student aid.
Every drug possession case has unique circumstances, so retain the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney when you face drug charges.
Possession charges don’t always result in open-and-shut cases. You may find one or more defenses to your charge that can help dismiss your case, reduce your charge to a lesser one, or help you get a not-guilty verdict from a judge or jury.
Illegal Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of due process of law. This right involves lawful search and seizure before the police make an arrest. Police and prosecutors can only use drugs found with legal methods as evidence in a possession case.
If your Fourth Amendment rights are violated and the drugs were found after an illegal search of your property or person, your attorney might be able to get the court to dismiss the charges since the drugs won’t be able to serve as evidence during a trial.
Unwitting possession is a defense against a drug possession charge used when the accused person didn’t know they had possession of the controlled substance at the time police found it.
For example, if the police search a home you share with roommates or a vehicle you were in with other people, it can be difficult for the prosecution to prove that the drugs actually belonged to you and that you were aware they were there.
This defense may help return a not-guilty verdict if your lawyer asks the prosecution to prove that the substance belonged to you and they cannot do so beyond a reasonable doubt.
Lack of Possession
Lack of possession might seem like a contradictory defense for a drug possession charge, but it is applicable in some cases. Lack of possession is primarily a defense in constructive possession charges.
Constructive possession means that the drugs were found in a place that the accused person had dominion and control over, rather than the drugs being found on the person themselves.
If you are charged with possession of a controlled substance while you’re in an area you don’t have complete control over, you might be able to use lack of possession as a defense. Examples of cases like these include when you’re pulled over in a vehicle that isn’t yours or if you’re in a rental unit that the landlord or homeowner has access to.
Untested or Missing Drugs
In order to be found guilty of possession of a controlled substance, the substance has to actually be what police and the prosecutor claim it is.
The prosecution must send the drug to a crime lab to analyze it to prove it is the substance in question. If the prosecutor cannot call a crime lab employee to testify that the drugs were tested and found to be an illegal controlled substance, you may have a sound defense to your possession charge.
If the drugs police found when they arrested you are missing, they cannot be tested and you may be able to have the court dismiss your possession charge completely due to the lack of evidence against you.
Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC, defends clients accused of misdemeanors or felonies in Waukegan, Illinois, and throughout the greater Lake County area. If you face a drug charge, contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your case and your defense.