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4 Common Defenses for California Drug Possession Charges

Okabe & Haushalter Aug 23, 2018 Drug Crime

With thousands of people arrested in California for drug possession charges each year, these cases represent a large percentage of the state’s criminal cases, and our inmate population is largely made up of those convicted on drug charges. Many arrests are solely the result of people being found with small amounts of illegal substances in their car or on their person.

While not always easy, with the help of a drug defense attorney in Los Angeles, it’s possible to fight drug charges for a possible not-guilty verdict or dismissal. We’ll undertake the best defense strategies for your particular case. Here are four commonly used defenses.

The Drugs Aren’t Yours

The most common argument against criminal charges is to tell the judge you didn’t do it. While the drugs obviously belong to someone, they may not have been yours. For example, if an illegal substance is found by police on the floor of your vehicle, your attorney may be able to argue that they belonged to a prior passenger and you didn’t know they were there.

Illegal Search and Seizure

Everyone is granted the right to due process by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which includes protection against unlawful search and seizure. While drugs in plain sight can be taken and used as evidence against you, those discovered by police after a search without the suspect’s permission or a warrant are usually inadmissible. If the police violate your Fourth Amendment rights, your charges will most likely be dropped.

Inaccurate Lab Analysis

Just because a substance appears to be an illegal drug, doesn’t mean that’s truly the case. Most powdery substances look like cocaine and oregano can be mistaken for marijuana. LSD doesn’t have a particular look because it’s available in several forms. It falls on the state to prove that the substance appropriated by the police is an illicit substance, and that requires analysis by a crime lab and testimony by a lab analyst. If there’s any doubt, your drug defense attorney in Los Angeles can claim inaccuracy.


While the police are allowed to conduct sting operations, entrapment is illegal. An operation is considered entrapment when informants or law enforcement officers trick you into committing a crime you wouldn’t have otherwise executed. For example, if an informant pressures you to transport drugs to another party, it can be classified as entrapment, as can any case where the cops provide the drugs in question. However, entrapment charges are rare.

If Traditional Defenses Don’t Work

Many jurisdictions will allow suspects charged with possession of small amounts of illegal substances to pay a fine, complete a rehabilitation program, and eventually have the charges dismissed. To qualify for this program, the suspect will be expected to remain employed or a student, and pass multiple drug tests. If they fail to comply, they can be convicted and assigned the maximum sentence for their original arrest charge.

If you’ve been arrested on a drug charge in California, start by exercising your right to remain silent, and insist on having your lawyer present for questioning. Never sign any documents or plead guilty before speaking to a drug defense attorney in Los Angeles. When you need help, the law firm of Okabe and Haushalter has your back. Call us at 310-430-7799 today to discuss appropriate legal strategies.