If you were charged with a drug crime, it is important to understand that different types of evidence may play a role in the charges against you. In general, you cannot be charged without evidence, but many people take this to mean physical evidence. In the absence of physical evidence, you can still receive drug charges if you had control over an illegal substance or had the intent to sell or distribute that substance, even if you did not physically possess it.
Evidentiary Requirements for Drug Crimes
Pennsylvania statute 18 PA Cons Stat § 7508 outlines the definitions and penalties for crimes involving drugs. There are a few key elements to drug charges that can be brought against you. They are the same regardless of how or where the crime in question is alleged to have occurred. These elements are:
In most cases, law enforcement will attempt to present evidence that you knew you were dealing with an illegal substance and had possession of the substance when charging you with a drug crime. They may also try to prove you had an intent to use, sell, or distribute it. The law very painstakingly defines each of these factors, but there are many cases in which the definitions of knowledge, possession, and intent can change depending on the circumstances of the case.
For example, if you had control over a substance, you may be charged with constructive possession. This implies you were able to direct how, when, or where the substance would be in use, even if you did not have physical possession of it.
In such cases, you can be charged with various crimes involving such possession. When it comes to intent, you can receive a charge for intent to sell even if you were not in the act of selling an illegal drug. Circumstantial evidence may point to the fact that you were preparing to do so.
Defending Against Drug Charges
If you were charged without evidence, there are many ways an attorney may be able to fight the charges against you. Here are a few examples of common defenses against drug charges.
Knowledge, Intent, and Possession
The most basic defense you can make is to disprove the case against you based on a lack of knowledge, possession, or intent to sell or distribute the illegal drugs. If you did not know you were carrying illegal drugs, did not have physical or constructive possession, or can prove that you had no intention of dealing with those drugs illegally, you may use this as a defense against the charges made against you.
Depending on the situation, it can be illegal for law enforcement officials to entice someone to commit a crime they probably would not have committed otherwise. In many entrapment cases, the state or local police even provide the drugs in question as part of a larger operation. You can potentially dismiss or lower the charges against you if you can prove entrapment.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
It is illegal for law enforcement officials to obtain evidence against you without cause. For example, if a police officer has no just cause to pull you over, but finds drugs in your vehicle or on your person as a result, you may be able to prevent those drugs from being included as evidence against you. You will need to prove that the law enforcement officer in question had no grounds on which to obtain that evidence.
Drug Classification and Weight
Many drug laws only come into effect when you meet the minimum weight or volume threshold of a particular drug. In other words, you must have enough of the drug in question to be charged with a crime.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
If you were charged without evidence, we may be able to help. Contact the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. today at (610) 680-7842. Based on the specifics of the charges brought against you and the evidence at hand, we may represent you. This can include building a case to prove your innocence or reduce the charges against you.
Reach out to us today. If we can take on your case, we will help you determine the best course of action to handle the charges you are facing.