While many states across the United States have legalized marijuana in recent years, the manufacture or sale of other controlled substances remains a serious criminal offense in most states, including Tennessee. If you were recently arrested and charged with selling drugs in Tennessee, you face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. One mistake you do not want to make is to listen to the police and/or the prosecuting attorney who will undoubtedly try to convince you that a conviction is a foregone conclusion. Until you sit down and discuss the unique set of facts and circumstances with your attorney, there is no way to know what defenses might be available to you. To illustrate how you might be able to avoid a conviction, a Murfreesboro drug defense lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains some common defenses in drug dealing cases.
Tennessee Code Section 39-17-417 governs the manufacture, delivery, or sale of a controlled substance in Tennessee, reading in pertinent part as follows:
(a) It is an offense for a defendant to knowingly:
(1) Manufacture a controlled substance;
(2) Deliver a controlled substance;
(3) Sell a controlled substance; or
(4) Possess a controlled substance with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell the controlled substance.
Common Defenses When Charged with Drug Dealing
Although you may have been led to believe that a conviction is eminent by the arresting officer and/or the prosecuting attorney, there is a good chance that you have a viable defense. Considering the consequences of a conviction for selling drugs, you owe it to yourself to pursue any possible defenses, such as:
- The initial stop was illegal. A random, or unrelated, traffic stop often leads to a search and seizure – which leads to an arrest for dealing drugs. Once stopped, something about the driver, the vehicle, or the passengers makes the officer suspect that drugs are present in the vehicle and a search follows. In these cases, a common defense is to challenge the legality of the initial stop. Your attorney may also challenge the amount of time you were detained after the original reason for the stop concluded and/or the reason for the subsequent search. If the stop or the subsequent search is found to have violated your rights, the drugs seized may be inadmissible at trial.
- Alleging that a search and seizure was illegal. Your arrest may also have followed a search and seizure of your home or business. If your arrest stemmed from the search of your home, your lawyer may challenge the search because the law only allows a home to be searched if the police first obtain a valid warrant, except under very narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement. If the search was illegal, anything seized may be excluded from trial.
- Challenging a constructive possession argument. Sometimes the prosecutor bases charges of dealing on a constructive possession argument. Constructive possession is used to satisfy the “possession” element of a crime when the accused did not have the contraband under his/her direct, physical control. Instead, the prosecutor must convince a judge or jury that the defendant had constructive possession, meaning he/she had the “intent to maintain dominion and control over the contraband.” Your drug defense lawyer may be able to attack the state’s constructive possession argument and convince the judge/jury that the possession element was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Alleging that the drugs were for personal use. The prosecutor may be basing the dealing charges on the quantity of the drugs you had in your possession. Absent additional evidence of dealing, you may be able to successfully argue that although it was a significant quantity, they were intended for personal use. That, of course, is still a criminal offense; however, the penalties for possession for personal use are considerably less severe than those for dealing.
Contact a Murfreesboro Drug Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with selling drugs in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro drug defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. In Tennessee contact a Murfreesboro drug defense lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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