From the legalization of medical
marijuana to the decriminalization of recreational use, it seems like nearly every
state is changing their cannabis laws. Unfortunately, Tennessee is not
one of those states.
Possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less is considered a misdemeanor punishable
by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of up to $2,500. A $250 fine
is required for all first-time convictions. A subsequent offense results
in a $500 mandatory minimum fine.
The defense of an individual charged with possession of a controlled substance
such as cannabis is typically difficult, but not impossible. Some defenses
challenge the stated facts, evidence or testimony of the case. Other defenses
focus on procedural errors.
The following are some of the most common defenses to drug possession charges:
The arresting officer lacked probable cause – First, you need to try to show that the reason the officer stopped
you was unjustified. If you were arrested for marijuana possession after
a traffic stop, did you commit a traffic violation that forced law enforcement
to pull you over?
Unlawful search and seizure – According to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, every
citizen has the right to due process of law, which includes lawful search
and seizure procedures before an arrest is made. When it comes to drug
possession cases, this is one of the most common defenses. While control
substances found in “plain view” may be seized and used as
evidence, drugs found in someone’s vehicle or home without consent
cannot be entered into evidence. If the defendant’s Fourth Amendment
rights were violated, then the illicit drugs cannot be used at trial,
which often leads to the dismissal of charges.
The drugs belong to another person – Another common defense to any criminal charge is to simply claim
that you didn’t commit the crime. The drug possession equivalent
to “I didn’t do it” is to claim the drugs aren’t
yours. An experienced
criminal defense lawyer will pressure the prosecution to prove that the cannabis found
in the vehicle actually belonged to his/her client and not one of the
other two passengers.
Unwitting possession – In these cases, although the person may have actual possession
of the illegal substances, they cannot be found legally guilty of possession
because they didn’t know that they were in possession of drugs.
For instance, if an individual gives a package to a messenger service
that contains drugs, and the messenger services is unaware that there
are drugs in the package, then the messengers cannot be held accountable
for actual drug possession if they are later caught in possession.
Police abuse of power – In rare circumstances, the police abused their power in discovering
the drugs. The planted evidence is often the most popular example, but
police abuse of powers takes many other forms, such as entrapment, illegal
surveillance, or pressure or threaten witnesses or other parties.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession, it is important to
understand that attempting your own defense is not wise. Instead, contact
a well-qualified attorney in your jurisdiction right away.
If you have been arrested for a
drug crime in Tennessee,
contact our Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney at
Crain & Flatt Attorneys at Law today.