3 Defenses to a Prescription Drug Charge
Anymore, prescription drugs are becoming one of the fastest growing types of drug crimes seen in criminal courts throughout the country. In fact, the government estimates that about 54 million Americans have used a prescription medication for a non-medical or “recreational” purpose at least once in their lifetimes. That represents a little more than 16% of the entire U.S. population.
Attorney Todd K. Mohink routinely helps people who’ve been arrested and charged with illegal use of controlled substances, even when those substances are regular prescription medications. Here are three of the more common defenses that may help you get out of a conviction.
#1 – Unlawful Stop
Probably the most common way that people end up in trouble for medications is in routine traffic stops. Under the law, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime in order to pull you over. While routine DUI checkpoints are generally allowed, a police officer cannot use a pretext or “unlawful excuse” to pull someone over, just because they are a certain race or because they “look” suspicious. The law does give some leeway for officers to pull people over for behavior that would normally indicate criminal conduct, this is a fine line. Here are some things that fall short of a traffic violation or crime but that are acceptable reasons to pull you over:
- Swerving and veering off the road (may indicate intoxication)
- Slowing and speeding up in an unusual way
- Driving in circles through a neighborhood repeatedly
Things that are not lawful include:
- Obvious racial or religious profiling
- Pulling someone over because of political or even comedic drug-related bumper stickers
- Ethnic discrimination or due to someone’s apparent national origin
If you can show a judge that the stop was performed as a pretext or excuse for an unlawful purpose, such as pulling someone over for being African American in a largely white neighborhood, then evidence discovered during the stop may be excluded. It sadly happens more often than one would imagine.
#2 – Unlawful Search
Say a police officer had a valid reason to pull you over on suspicion that you were drunk. You pass a field sobriety test and the breath test, yet the officer asks for permission to check your trunk. You decline respectfully but he persists and decides to detain you and search the trunk anyway. The problem here is that the officer has no lawful reason to suspect that you have something illegal in your trunk. The reason for the stop was to check to see if you were intoxicated. Once that suspicion was resolved, unless there was some other clear indicator of criminal conduct, it would generally be impermissible to forcibly check your trunk. As always, however, there are exceptions.
#3 – Mishandling Evidence
If the officer takes possession of the allegedly illegal substance then fails to maintain a clear chain of custody, it may not necessarily mean the case is lost, but it will provide you and your attorney a strong argument to show that there is no way to prove that the item being tested or presented to a jury as being a controlled substance is the same thing that was found in your vehicle. Without a proper chain of custody, there is a strong chance of the prosecutor offering a plea agreement rather than risking a not guilty verdict.
Never Take Chances With Your Freedom
If you are facing a criminal charge, never take chances. Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland today to discuss your case and get knowledgeable and experienced help right away.