The police found drugs in my car. What do I do now?
If police found drugs in your car, the first thing you should do is call a Columbus, OH drug possession attorney. Finding the right attorney for a drug case is crucial. This is because a good drug attorney will know how to successfully challenge the prosecution’s case against you. An experienced drug attorney knows the importance of questioning the legality of the search. Here are just some of the legal questions that are important in a drug possession case.
Were you in the car at the time of the search?
Convicting someone of drug possession requires proving that the person charged “possessed,” either actually or constructively, the controlled substance. This means the prosecutor will have a tougher time proving that you possessed drugs, particularly if you were not the sole occupant of the vehicle.
Why was the search for drugs conducted?
Police must have probable cause, or a legitimate alternative to probable cause—often called an “exception,” to search your car. An experienced Columbus drug possession lawyer will examine why the police suspected that your car contained drugs. If the explanation does not make sense, or cannot be supported by the evidence, an experience attorney will know how to seek to exclude evidence from being used against you at trial.
What are some typical “legitimate” reasons for why my car was searched?
Here are just four legitimate reasons why an officer is allowed to search your car:
- The officer sees drugs inside the vehicle while the officer is standing outside of it.
- You’ve given the officer reason to believe you might have a weapon on you, which can allow the officer to search your car in certain circumstances.
- You gave the officer permission to search your car.
- The officer secured a warrant to search your car.
Regardless of the potential “legitimacy” of these types of searches, a car search can still be successfully challenged. For example, can the officer truthfully testify that he saw drugs under the passenger’s seat by looking through your car’s window? What led the officer to feel threatened, and was it enough for a reasonable officer to really think his safety was at issue? Did the officer force open the car’s trunk over your objection or silence? What did the warrant authorize the officer to do, and what did the officer actually do?
Where and how were the alleged drugs found?
An experienced drug attorney will question the basis for the search, as well as how the search was conducted.
If the officer’s search of my vehicle was proper, can an attorney successfully challenge the evidence against me?
Yes. For instance, the chemical identity of any drugs allegedly found in your car must be confirmed by laboratory testing. As another example, the chain of custody for the evidence must be fully documented and unbroken. In addition, samples of the evidence should be made available for independent testing arranged by your drug possession defense attorney.
What are the potential penalties I’m facing?
The severity of a drug possession charge, and its potential penalty, depends upon the identity of the controlled substance, and its total weight. In Ohio, possession of marijuana is usually prosecuted as a minor misdemeanor, unless there was a significant quantity or evidence that you were engaged in trafficking it. But while most Marijuana cases are misdemeanors, almost any weight of cocaine or heroin is treated as a felony offense.
April Campbell of Campbell Law, LLC has handled thousands of drug cases; at indictment, in the trial court, and on appeal. To find out if she can help you in your drug case, call (614) 356-8515 or schedule a free consultation online.