Common Mistakes Police Make in Drug Possession Cases

By its very nature, drug possession charges are complicated. The crime doesn’t assume that you are buying, selling, or even taking the drug. It simply accuses you of having it.

In essence, the crime itself is a technicality. Imagine this scenario:

You’re walking down the street, and someone runs up behind you. As they pass, they drop something in your hand. They turn and shout to nearby police, “This person has drugs!” and keep running. You’re standing there, confused, and as you look down at your hand, you see a little baggie of cocaine. Suddenly, there are handcuffs around your wrists, and the cops are taking you down to the station.

This is a silly story, but it illustrates an important point. By simply having something in your hand, you face serious drug charges. The authorities don’t always have the full story, and they can make broad assumptions.

Here are some ways police often leap to conclusions in a drug possession charge.

They Assume “Actual Ownership”

In the scenario above, the police assume the drugs are yours because you have them in your hand. It’s easy to draw this conclusion, but that doesn’t make the accusation true.

“Actual ownership” means that the drugs specifically belong to you. This is a big part of any successful conviction.

Here are some examples of how police can mistake the ownership of drugs:

  • Police find a group of people sitting at a table. At the center of the table, there is a pile of cocaine. They accuse one person of possession, even though that person just arrived and didn’t know about the drugs.
  • The cops find drugs in the kitchen of someone’s apartment. They arrest that person for possession, but the drugs actually belong to a roommate who isn’t home at the time.
  • Police stop someone on the street and search their pockets. They find a small bag of drugs. The accused borrowed the jack from a friend, and they weren’t aware that they were carrying narcotics.

They Assume Intent

Intent is a big part of any criminal prosecution. It is not enough to commit a crime by accident. Prosecutors must prove that the accused acted with purpose. In most of the above scenarios, police believe that the accused were willfully carrying drugs.

Intent plays an important role in another situation. Sometimes a person knows they are breaking the law, but they believe they have no choice. The drug world is known for its dangerous characters. If someone carries drugs under threat, they are acting under “duress.”

The police may not know the full story and assume that someone is acting out of their free will. When you are forced to commit a crime, you can explain your situation to the court, and you may be able to preserve your freedom.

They Can Assume Distribution

Technically, distribution and possession are separate crimes. Distribution assumes that you are selling drugs, and it carries a much higher penalty.

Often, police use the amount of drugs in a distribution accusation. They can rely on specific measurements for these charges. If someone has drugs that are just over the legal limit, they may be charged with distribution, regardless of whether they intended to sell those drugs.

Police can also use communications for distribution charges. They can easily misinterpret text or phone conversations as an intent to sell.

Police Mistakes Can Help You

A conviction requires guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Therefore, any mistakes can help you in court. If your attorney can expose falsehoods in your allegations, then there is a degree of doubt in your case, and you could walk free.

Our firm is here to help those charged with drug possession. For a free consultation, contact us today by calling (931) 361-4477 or filling out our online contact form.

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