Despite Nebraska’s ban the box legislation, drug possession charges can still taint your record and make it difficult to get accepted into employment and housing opportunities.
If you or a loved one are facing drug possession charges, it’s important to have a strong defense strategy. Here are a few of the ways a lawyer may be able to help you create your defense.
What evidence do the authorities have?
A lawyer can anticipate what type of evidence the police may have against you. Certain defense strategies may be more important if the authorities have been investigating you for weeks or months, rather than if the possession charges were coincidentally issued during a traffic stop.
Does “I was holding it for a friend” work?
The notorious excuse, “I was holding it for a friend,” is still a guilty plea in court. However, if you did not own the drugs or have knowledge of their presence, it may be fair to conclude that you were not responsible for the crime.
If you have not exchanged communication acknowledging the drugs, it may be difficult for a prosecutor to obtain proof that you were knowingly in possession of the illicit substance.
Type of drug possession
The substance in question will be sent to a crime lab for testing. The potential penalties you may face and defenses you may use vary depending on which type of drug you are charged with possessing.
For example, if you are found with less than 1 ounce of marijuana, for your first offense your lawyer will defend you from the following penalties:
- A citation
- An educational course
- A fine up to $300
However, if you are found with any traceable amount of cocaine or heroin (which are also Schedule I drugs), you could face up to five years of imprisonment and a fine up to $5,000 or $10,000 respectively at a minimum. Different amounts of different types of drugs allow for different types of penalties. A lawyer will help you understand what’s at risk and what outcome may be possible for your case.
If the evidence against you is lost through multiple transfers, testing and storing, prosecutors may lose the right to suspect you of a crime. A lawyer will be sure that the evidence against you is present and thus, admissible in court.
Search and seizure laws
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects U.S. citizens against unlawful search and seizure. An attorney can explain how the law applies to your circumstance and whether the drugs were seized lawfully.
For example, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a person is breaking the law or putting others at risk of harm in order to search him or her. In a vehicle, the officer may search the driver and passenger section of the vehicle but must be granted permission to search a driver’s car trunk.
If you or a loved one are facing drug charges, seek the help of an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can draw from knowledge of the law and past experiences to fight for the best outcome to your case.