Like all states, Indiana regulates the possession of controlled substances, including street drugs and certain prescriptions. The severity of the punishment that someone faces for illegal possession of these drugs varies depending on the type of substance, how much they allegedly had, and where the alleged possession took place. In Indiana, defendants may face up to 50 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Depending on the facts of the case, an experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyer may suggest any of the following defense strategies.
When a law enforcement officer seizes drugs from a person, inexperienced people may believe it’s an open-and-shut case. However, a defense attorney will first wonder whether the interaction with the police was constitutional in the first place. In order for a law enforcement officer to search a person or private property, the officer must have one of the following:
If a defendant was illegally stopped by the police or if law enforcement conducted an illegal search, it’s possible to get key evidence thrown out. In some cases, the whole case can be dropped due to Fourth Amendment violations.
In Indiana, it’s not enough to simply have a drug on your person or within your property. The prosecution must prove that a defendant knew that the controlled substance was there and intended to possess it. For example, if one roommate has a controlled substance in their room without your knowledge or consent, you should not be found guilty of possessing the substance.
If the defendant is the only person who has control over a piece of property, then the prosecution does not have to prove that he or she knew about the substance. For example, if a defendant is the only person who uses the purse where the drugs were found, this may not be an effective defense strategy. However, any time a controlled substance is found on shared property, the prosecution has the burden of proof regarding knowledge and intent.
Believe it or not, police and their laboratories sometimes get things wrong. What at first looks like a controlled substance can turn out to be something else entirely. Furthermore, sometimes law enforcement officers arrest someone for possessing pain killers, only to later find out that the defendant had a prescription for these pills. Proving that the substance was not a drug or that the person had a prescription is one of the most straight-forward defenses for these charges.
If you’re charged with possession of a controlled substance, it’s essential to act quickly. Do not ignore these legal problems in hopes that they will go away. No matter what your defense strategy ends up being, your first step is to hire an Indiana criminal defense lawyer. At Arshad, Pangere & Warring, LLP, we have the experience you need. Contact us today to start your defense.
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