If you were recently arrested and charged with a drug related criminal offense in the State of Tennessee, you are likely already aware of the potentially serious penalties you face if convicted of the charges filed against you. Not only do you face potentially serious judicial penalties, but the non-judicial ramifications of a drug related conviction can also haunt you for many years to come. With all of that in mind, you have hopefully already made the important decision to retain the services of an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney to protect you and your rights throughout the prosecution of your case. You may also be curious how your attorney will approach your defense. Because every case involves a unique set of facts and circumstances, the only way to know how your particular attorney will defend your specific charges; however, there are some common strategies that your drug defense attorney might use, including the following three:
- The drugs were not my client’s. If you are facing charges for possession of a controlled substance your attorney might be able to argue that the drugs were not yours if the State if basing the case on constructive possession. Like many people, you may think that defining the word “possession” is fairly straightforward and simple; however, in legal terms you would be wrong. In the law, there are two types of possession – actual and constructive. Actual possession involves a person having direct physical control over the item in question, in this case a controlled substance. Constructive possession, however, is used in cases where the defendant was not actually caught with the contraband on his/her person. Instead, the State is arguing that the drug belonged to the defendant even though they were not found on the defendant. To do that, the State must show that the defendant (you) had “the intent to maintain dominion and control over the contraband.” Your attorney will argue that you did not have the “intent to maintain dominion and control over the contraband.”
- The evidence was obtained illegally. Cases involving drugs frequently involve a search and seizure. The search may have been conducted at your home, your office, your vehicle, or even your person; however, the issue your attorney may use as your defense is the legality of the search and seizure. The U.S. Constitution protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures by requiring a law enforcement officer to first obtain a warrant based on probable cause before conducting a search. Although the warrant requirement has been watered down by the courts over the years, there are still safeguards in place to protect you against an illegal search and seizure. If the search was potentially conducted illegally, your drug defense attorney can challenge the search. If the court agrees that is was an illegal search, any evidence seized as a result of the search is inadmissible at trial.
- The informant is not reliable. Another common thread in drug cases is the use of informants. While law enforcement officers can use informants, there is a whole body of law devoted specifically to how they can be used, when they can be used, and who can be used as an informant. In a nutshell, an informant must be deemed reliable and must be closely monitored while working for the police. All too often these safeguards are not observed to the extent that they should be. If that was the case in your situation, your drug defense attorney can challenge the use of the informant. If the court agrees with your attorney, any evidence obtained as a result of the use of the informant will be declared inadmissible at trial. Just as with an illegal search, more often than not if the informant is deemed unreliable, the State’s case against you will fall apart and the State will be forced to dismiss the charges against you.
If you have been charged with a drug related criminal offense in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Tennessee drug defense attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.