Seattle Drug Possession Laws
Being charged with drug possession or a drug-related crime in Washington is a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act. This is also known as a VUCSA. According to Washington law, a person convicted of a VUCSA can face serious felony penalties. In fact, almost all drug crimes crimes are felonies except for possession of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia charges. If you are facing a drug possession charge in Seattle, it is vital that you contact an attorney and find out what your defense options are. Fighting your charges and avoiding conviction is the best way to avoid the penalties.
When it comes to fighting a drug possession or any type of criminal charge, your defense options are endless. Your attorney will go over every aspect of your case and find a weak spot in the charges against you. From this they will begin to build your defense. Every drug crime case is different which means every defense will be different as well. There are, however, a few defense strategies that attorneys use more often. Each of these defense strategies are discussed below. This is important to remember that these are not the only defense options, simply a list to demonstrate that many defenses are possible.
Building a Seattle Drug Possession Defense
When it comes to fighting criminal charges, an attorney's job is to help you build a strong defense. Anyone who is accused of a crime in Washington has the right to a trial by jury. This means that in order to be convicted, a jury must decide that you are guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt". A defense only needs to be strong enough to establish a doubt in the jury members'' minds that you are actually guilty. It will be up to the prosecution to explain, in detail, exactly why you are guilty which is often a much more complicated task. The following are some common strategies that VUCSA attorneys use to establish a doubt to their clients' is guilt.
No Knowledge – One common defense that the person charged with a drug possession may use is that they had no knowledge of the drug. While this may seem overly simple, it will be up to the prosecutor to prove to the jury that the drugs were, in fact yours, and you had full knowledge of them. This can be quite difficult. Your attorney does not have to prove that the drugs belonged to somebody else, only that you had no knowledge of them and were unaware that they were in your possession. Also, an attorney may argue that you had no knowledge of what the evidence actually was. For example, you were given a plant from a friend and did not realize that it was marijuana or pills found in your home were left by a guest and you did not know that they were amphetamines.
No Evidence – Another common defense is to request that the evidence not be presented in court. In most VUCSA cases the main evidence is the drugs themselves. An attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence if it can be argued that police obtained the evidence through a violation of their client's constitutional rights. Under the fourth amendment, everyone is protected from unlawful search and seizures. If the evidence was obtained through an unlawful search, judge may rule that it cannot be shown in court. A search of your personal property performed without a warrant or without your consent may be unlawful. Without any evidence it will be hard for the jury to make a conviction.
No Drugs – Finally, an argument could be made that the substance found in your possession was not actually drugs. This will require a lab to test the drugs to see what their actual content is. In these situations, your attorney may also request that the chain of custody of the evidence be proven to show who had access to the evidence between the time it was taken from you to the time the lab had a chance to investigate. Any small mistake could establish to the jury that the substance you had was not actually a drug and was switched or the evidence was tainted.
Drug Possession Defense Lawyer in Seattle
In addition to the above the defense strategies, an experienced VUCSA attorney will also be able to help you understand your potential penalties and make informed decisions. They may even be able to work out a plea deal with the prosecution. A plea deal is when the prosecutor offers a defendant a set of penalties in exchange for a guilty plea. This allows them to avoid trial and come to an agreement before anything is decided upon. Often a plea agreement involves reducing the charges or dropping some charges in cases where the defendant is facing charges for multiple crimes.
To find out more about what a Seattle drug possession attorney can do for you, contact our office. Attorney Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who works hard to get his clients the best defenses possible. Call now for free consultation.