Possessing or distributing illegal substances in Florida is against the law and may result in criminal charges. However, a criminal charge does not have to lead to a conviction. Presenting a solid drug crime defense during your trial may be the key to avoiding jail time and other serious consequences.
There are several defenses that are commonly used by defendants facing drug charges. One way to defend against drug charges is to establish that law enforcement officers violated your Fourth Amendment rights.
Fourth Amendment violations
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement officers may not search your person or property or seize evidence without a valid search warrant that is based on probable cause. In other words, the officer must have reasonable suspicion based on facts and circumstances that a crime occurred to conduct a search.
There are certain exceptions to the warrant requirement including consent, exigent/emergency circumstances, and stop and frisk. One exception that commonly applies in drug cases is the automobile exception. Under this exception, an officer who has stopped your vehicle may search your vehicle for drugs/drug paraphernalia without a warrant, if they have probable cause to do so, or the reasonable belief that your vehicle contains evidence of illegal drug activity.
What happens if there is a violation?
If a Florida officer conducts a search without a warrant, and the search is not deemed lawful under an exception, any evidence obtained during the search may be excluded from your case. Prosecutors will have to use other lawfully obtained evidence to prove their case. If their case is not strong enough, they may choose to dismiss the charges against you.
While the Fourth Amendment defense is commonly used in drug cases, it is not applicable in every case. The specific defense strategy you use will depend on the details of your case. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help develop a strategy that can work for you.