Drug possession charges may not hold up in court if officers violated search and seizure law and/or there are not enough facts to legally establish all elements of possession.
Simple possession cases account for about 80% of the criminal drug cases in Oklahoma. Many of these prosecutions involve marijuana or prescription painkillers. Unless the defendant had a valid prescription, possession of even one joint or pill could be a serious infraction. The War on Drugs has cooled off somewhat in the 21st century, but sentences remain high for minor drug offenses.
That being said, the climate is changing. There is a movement to legalize marijuana or at least substantially expand medical marijuana laws. In fact, possession of up to 1.5 ounces may be a fine-only misdemeanor. Furthermore, many jurors agree that drug addiction triggers many of these offenses, especially possessing an illegal painkiller. Addiction is not a legal defense to possession, but it may resonate with the jury.
Fortunately, there are a number of legal defenses available. Ponca City criminal defense attorneys can use these defenses to get the charges thrown out of court or at least reduce the sentence.
Search and Seizure Issues
The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, these acts are per se unreasonable unless officers had a warrant, or a search warrant exception applied. Since officers generally do not bother to get search warrants in drug possession cases, a narrow search warrant exception must apply. Some common ones include:
- Consent: Property owners, or