Imagine driving home after a long day of work when a police officer pulls you over. The officer notices a white powder in your car and immediately places you under arrest for possession of cocaine. You try to explain that the powder is dry wall from the job you were working on that day, but a K-9 indicated that there were drugs present in your vehicle.
This is exactly what happened to a handyman in Florida. When the arresting officer ran a check on the man’s identification, he had a 2015 arrest on his record for marijuana and cocaine. Since the man was still on parole, the judge denied bond and the defendant was immediately remanded to jail. It took three months for lab tests to confirm that the white powder in his car was, in fact, dry wall. An innocent man spent 90 days behind bars simply because he had a prior offense on his record.
For a drug possession charge to be valid, the crime lab must prove that the substance is an illegal drug. If you are facing drug possession charges for a substance that is not an illicit drug, this may be your primary defense. However, there are other defenses available for drug possession charges.
If police officers conducted an illegal search and seizure that violated your rights, then any substances found generally cannot be used as evidence in court. If the drugs belonged to someone else, or if you were unaware that they were in your possession, then your attorney may be able to provide reasonable doubt that the drugs were yours.
When drugs are entered into the chain of evidence and submitted to a lab for tests, they often have to pass through many people and change location multiple times. It is not uncommon for evidence to go missing during this process. If the prosecution is unable to present the drugs as evidence during the trial, the judge might dismiss the charges for lack of proof.
Two other possible defenses are entrapment and set-up. Proving that an officer set you up by planting the drugs is often very difficult since officers usually will not rat out their colleagues. However, it is possible to obtain an order from the court forcing the police department to release the suspected officer’s record. Entrapment occurs when an officer or informant influences an individual to commit a crime. For it to be entrapment, the crime must one that the defendant would not have committed without such influence or encouragement.
If you are facing a drug possession charge in the West Des Moines area, it is important to remember that you have rights and options. One of the rights you have is to defend yourself against the charges. The right defense may be able to save you from the effects of a drug charge on your record.