Daniel K. Peugh
Peugh Law Firm, Denton, Texas
Illegal Drug possession or possession of controlled substance cases are serious. They are most commonly felonies. Felony drug possession charges can carry as little as six months in prison or up to life in prison. Many people will receive probation but, that can mean a felony conviction on your record and up to ten years of your life spent on probation. What should you do?
The first step when you have been accused of possession of a controlled substance is to hire a lawyer. The sooner you hire a lawyer the more time that lawyer will have to work with you on defense. Do not wait until you are indicted! When your case is indicted it will immediately be filed in court. Once in court, the assigned judge will start right away setting you case for hearings and pushing it toward a resolution. It takes longer for a drug possession case to get indicted than it takes to push it through court after it is indicted. Give your attorney that extra time to work for you.
Your ideal timeline is an arrest, post bond and immediately hire an attorney. Your felony controlled substance possession case is NOT going to just go away after a police officer has gone to the trouble to arrest you. Your drug case is going to the prosecutor’s office and it is going to the grand jury. Get an attorney as soon as you can afford one. (FYI, the longer the time period is before a case has to be finalized the more time your attorney can give you for a payment plan.) Once you have an attorney, you need to start fighting.
There are two basic ways to fight a felony drug possession case. The first way is to attack the law. I do not mean your attorney should tell the police, the prosecutor, the judge or the jury that drugs should be legal. That defense will not work here in Denton County and I cannot imagine it working anywhere in Texas. Attacking the law means showing that what has to be proven under the law to gain a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, cannot be proven in your case. The things that must be proven are called elements and every element has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
I have successfully defended many drug possession cases. One element of drug possession that I continually attack in my practice is the element of knowledge. Every indictment for possession of a controlled substance will include the language, “the defendant intentionally or knowingly possessed x drug.” If you did not know there was a baggie of methamphetamine in your car, for example, then you are not guilty of possession of a controlled substance.
It works like this, you are driving four friends to a party in your car. You get pulled over for speeding. The officer approaches your car, shines his light into the passenger compartment and finds a baggie with a white powdery substance in it sitting in plain view in the middle of your backseat floorboard. That is probable cause to search your car under the Automobile Exception to the Warrant Requirement. The one baggie is all that is found but, it is seized by the officer. Upon questioning by the officer, no one seems to know where the baggie came from but, he learns one of the guys in the back seat has an open traffic warrant.
Unfortunately for you, the best affirmative links to the drugs point to you. It is your car, you were driving and you are presumed to have control over everything in the car. No one tells the officer anything different so you are arrested for felony drug possession and your friend is arrested on an open warrant.
It looks bad that night but, you can fight this. The drugs were found in a place that you could not see. Powdered drugs in a baggie do not give off a tell-tale odor. Without plain sight or plain smell, it cannot be said that you must have known the drugs were present. Further, you could not have moved the drugs to the backseat without the officer seeing you turn around to do it. Therefore, it cannot be said beyond a reasonable doubt that you even knew the drugs were there.
The second way to fight a felony drug possession case is on the facts. Sure it is your car and you were driving but, a jury will know that says nothing about whether you knew drugs were in it. We find things in our cars we didn’t know were there all the time. I am constantly finding the shiny plastic wrapping that covers juice-box straws in my truck. I don’t put them in the floorboard. I don’t drink juice boxes but, there they are in my truck.
Attacking the facts, I would argue that your friend with the open warrant was responsible for the drugs. He was actually sitting in the backseat. He knew the officer would ask for all the passengers’ names and run them for warrants. He then would be arrested on his traffic warrant and patted down. At that point, he has a felony possession of a controlled substance charge added to his unpaid traffic ticket. Don’t worry, your friend is not going to be charged with drug possession just because a defense attorney says it was him. That ship has sailed. The police blamed you and the case succeeds or fails with you as the defendant. With a much better suspect in the car, your case is a not guilty or, more likely, a dismissal waiting to happen.
Contact the Law Offices of The Peugh Law Firm
While drug possession may seem like a minor offense, the possible penalties show that the state of Texas considers it to be a very serious crime. The sooner you hire a lawyer the more time that lawyer will have to work with you on defense. Do not wait until you are indicted! The staff at The Peugh Law Firm has years of experience successfully defending clients in Denton County criminal courts who have been accused of illegal drug possession or possession of a controlled substance. Contact us at (940) 566-0271 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case.