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Defending against state and federal drug charges in Maryland

Being arrested and charged with drug possession or trafficking can have life-changing consequences for a Maryland resident. But there are a number of ways to fight for dismissal or reduction of the charges.

One of the fundamental rights in the United States is the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects all persons in the U.S., including noncitizens and undocumented aliens, from illegal searches and seizures. This means that authorities must either secure a search warrant before searching a person, their home or place of business, or show that the search falls within one of the narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement. If the court determines a search was conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment, any drugs or other evidence seized may not be admitted as evidence in a court of law. This type of defense is frequently used in trials involving drug charges.

Another defense strategy is to challenge the prosecution's allegation that the drugs in question actually belonged to the defendant. For instance, if someone was arrested and charged with drug possession and there were other people present at the time, a defense attorney might attack the prosecution's contention that the drugs were actually the defendant's and not someone else's.

If suspected drugs are found on or near a defendant, the prosecution must prove the substances are in fact illegal drugs. A defense attorney can challenge the reliability of crime lab analyses of the substances seized.

Another defense strategy is to bring a motion to compel the prosecution to produce any actual physical evidence. Once suspected drugs are seized and are in law enforcement custody, police must document the chain of custody before they are placed in evidence. Sometimes drug evidence is lost or destroyed before trial. An experienced defense attorney will always make sure the prosecution can properly produce any evidence that has led to the defendant's charges.

Source:, "Drug possession defenses", Accessed June 7, 2015

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