When police officers break up intricate drug trafficking rings, they usually crow loudly about it. But possession-only cases make up over 85 percent of all drug arrests.
A St. Paul criminal defense lawyer can usually engineer a number of successful results. Typically, such resolutions are possible without a trial. For example, most Ramsey County drug possession crimes go to designated drug courts. A substance abuse problem is not a defense to drug possession. But, if the defendant has such issues and voluntarily gets help, prosecutors normally offer pretrial diversion. If the defendant jumps through a few hoops, like a community service requirement, the state normally dismisses the charges.
It’s even easier to engineer such resolutions if the defendant has a valid defense to drug possession charges. Some of the more common ones are outlined below.
Offense reports almost invariably state that officers performed a field test on the substance in question, and that those test results indicated that the substance was heroin, cocaine, or whatever. But most field tests are completely unscientific.
Mistakes happen. In December 2018, Martin County, Florida sheriff’s deputies arrested a man for drug possession and threw him in jail. Deputies claimed that the substance field tested as heroin, but it turned out to be Tide laundry detergent. Sheriff William Snyder meekly explained “there’s always a possibility that one bad apple will slip through.”
Marijuana is an even better example. The defendant must have a useable quantity of this drug. Frequently, a burned joint may only contain marijuana residue. If officers do not analyze and weigh the sample, and they normally do not do these things, establishing a “useable quantity” beyond any reasonable doubt may be a problem.
Additionally, the law normally does not keep up with science. A few years ago, convenience stores throughout Greater St. Paul sold synthetic marijuana, like Scooby SNacks and K-2. These substances were not technically illegal at the time.
Today, St. Paul criminal defense lawyers handle a number of CBD Oil matters. Cannabidiol is a non-THC marijuana extract which may or may not be illegal in Minnesota. Many times, when police officers raid stores that sell CBD Oil, they confiscate the goods but do not arrest anyone. That’s because a good St. Paul criminal defense lawyer can usually beat these charges in court, so an arrest is a waste of resources.
Over half the drug possession arrests in Ramsey County are for marijuana possession.
Officers usually never have search warrants when they make drug possession arrests. So, the seized drugs are only admissible in court is a search warrant exception applies. These exceptions only apply if the defendant had a low expectation of privacy. Otherwise, the search is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Some common exceptions in drug possession cases include:
At trial, Ramsey County prosecutors have the burden of proof on this point. If the facts are shaky, a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer typically has an opening. For example, officers might perform a safety check at a home and also enter a detached garage, where they find drugs. Arguably, the officers did not have the authority to enter that structure.
This defense may be the most common, most straightforward, and most powerful drug possession defense. In Minnesota law, possession is not synonymous with proximity. In fact, a defendant could literally be sitting on a stash of illegal drugs and not possess it. That’s because, in addition to proximity, prosecutors must also prove knowledge and control. And, they must prove these things beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assume officers pull over a speeding vehicle. The owner consents to a search, and officers find drugs in the glove compartment. In court, it would be almost impossible to prove possession if the defendant was a back seat passenger. Prosecutors must prove that the defendant could exercise control over the drugs and that the defendant knew there were drugs in the glove compartment.
Drug possession charges often do not hold up in court. For a free consultation with an experienced St. Paul criminal defense lawyer, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at (651) 998-7634, or stop by 287 6th St E, Suite 20, St Paul, MN 55101.