Five of the Best Defense Strategies in Federal Drug Cases

If you are facing any federal drug charge in federal criminal court, it is crucial that you understand your rights and work with an experienced attorney. The federal government has been increasing the number of prosecutions against defendants for a wide range of drug charges. 

Depending on the quantity and type of controlled substances involved in your case, the prosecutors may try to file extremely serious charges against you that could expose you to lengthy prison sentences. Working with a skilled attorney who can begin developing your legal strategy can help you effectively fight the charges against you. There are many different legal strategies involved in fighting drug charges.

Disputing the Government's Evidence Against You

Your defense attorney should begin finding out what type of evidence the prosecution has against you. Did federal law enforcement agents stop you in your vehicle, did they search your house and find drugs and drug paraphernalia, or did they use wiretap evidence gathered over a long period? After your attorney discovers how they gathered evidence against you, they can begin developing a legal strategy to dispute the evidence against you. For example, one of the main factors in federal drug prosecution cases involves the quantity of the controlled substances seized by law enforcement. 

The amount of the controlled substance will determine whether you will be charged with simple possession or a more serious crime of distribution. Your attorney may be able to challenge the quantity of the controlled substance in question or challenge the prosecution's assertion that the substance was the type of controlled substance they claim it to be. 

Illegal Searches and Seizures

Law enforcement officers must comply with the constitution when they engage in searches and seizures to bring criminal charges against the defendant. For example, law enforcement officers cannot stop a driver unless they have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is engaged in unlawful activity. They cannot arrest a person unless they have probable cause to believe that person has committed a drug-related crime. There are also rules and regulations related to drug testing. 

In most cases, law enforcement officers can only enter your home if they have a warrant from a court. Finally, the FBI is required to follow specific regulations and constitutional requirements before they can engage in a wiretap. Your attorney may be able to challenge some of the evidence against you by asserting your constitutional right against an illegal search and seizure.

Proving You Were Not in Possession of the Drugs

You may be able to prove that you were not in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance. Perhaps the controlled substance belongs to your roommate, and you had no idea that it was in your apartment. Maybe you grabbed a bag with controlled substances, not knowing they were in it. When prosecutors cannot prove that the defendant was in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance, it is difficult for them to convict the defendant.

Challenging the Chain of Custody

Prosecutors can only bring evidence against you when that evidence has gone through a proper chain of custody. Another common legal defense strategy against federal drug charges is to question whether the drugs presented in court are the same drugs that were seized from your possession or from your home or vehicle. By attacking the chain of custody, your attorney may be able to prove that the law enforcement officers and prosecutors did not handle the drugs properly and that they are not useable in a court of law as evidence. 

Entrapment Defense 

As the FBI and other federal agencies increase their prosecutions of drug cases, it becomes more common for federal officers to set up sting operations. In these sing operations, an undercover officer or an informant working for federal authorities may try to entice the defendant to commit a drug-related crime they would not typically commit. If you were persuaded into committing a drug crime by a federal agent or one of their informants, you might be able to use the legal defense of entrapment successfully.

Contact a Charlotte Federal Defense Attorney

The penalties for federal drug crimes are severe. Suppose you have been charged with a federal drug crime. In that case, you could face a significant jail sentence, fines, and a permanent criminal record that will negatively affect your career and housing opportunities. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a case evaluation with one of our Charlotte criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible.