What A Prosecutor Has To Do To Make A Drug Possession Charge Stick

A drug possession lawyer examining a case on behalf of a defendant has to think about the way the prosecutor will handle it. Particularly, it's important to consider what the requirements for prosecution are under drug possession law. With that in mind, the defense attorney can then decide whether and how to oppose the charges. Here are three things a prosecutor has to do to make a charge stick.

Show the Initial Arrest Was Legitimate

One of the simplest defenses possible in a drug case is that the police didn't have cause to perform an arrest. When officers arrest people, they have to climb a ladder that starts at reasonable suspicion. This means that a reasonable person, given the facts known at the time, would have thought a crime might have happened and that the situation warranted further investigation.

For example, the police aren't supposed to pull random drivers over and check their vehicles for drugs. The law requires some meaningful suspicion, such as a motorist driving a car at night without the headlights on. A prosecutor has to prove the police observed something that reasonably was suspicious.

Likewise, reasonable suspicion has to quickly become probable cause upon interaction with the suspect. If there's no evidence of drug possession or use within a few minutes of the initial stop, the cops are supposed to cut the driver loose. Failing to do so could undermine the case. Upon learning of such conduct by the police, a drug possession lawyer would almost certainly file a motion with the court to dismiss the charges.

Tying the Drugs to the Defendant

The prosecution also has to prove that the drugs have a connection to the defendant. It's common for defendants to assert that someone else owned the drugs. The prosecutor then has to show that the defendant possessed the drugs at some point. If the drugs were in the person's pocket, for example, that would count. However, it can tough for a prosecutor if the drugs aren't on the person and there's nothing else, like fingerprints, tying the drugs to the defendant.

Proof the Drugs Are Drugs

Unless the defendant confesses beforehand, the prosecution has to prove that whatever substance is involved in the case is an illicit substance. Yes, it might seem silly for someone to skate on a cocaine charge, for example, because the contents of a baggie were powdered sugar, but it happens. The substance must be tested, and the prosecution has to show the defendant didn't own it legally, such as for a prescription.

To learn more, contact a drug possession lawyer.