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Potential defenses for drug crimes in Utah

Being accused of drug possession is a serious matter. Drug crimes may carry an element of embarrassment with them, even if the person who was accused ends up being acquitted. He or she may be required to list the charge on an employment application or disclose the event for certain reasons. This is just one of the reasons why it may be very important for an accused person to construct a well-thought-out defense against the charges, though many Utah residents might not know what options are available.

One common form of defense is to claim that the drugs were found due to an unlawful search and seizure. This can occur if the substance in question was located somewhere other than in "plain sight," and the searching police officer did not have a warrant to look for the substance. Another defense that involves the police is the to present evidence that the drugs were planted in the location they were found, though this can be difficult to prove. Entrapment is another possible defense that involves law enforcement, meaning that an officer coerced a suspect to commit a crime. A sting operation is lawful, but officers cannot encourage a suspect to commit a crime that he or she might not have otherwise commit.

Crime labs must analyze any substances that are seized to prove that they actually are illegal drugs. Similarly, if the prosecution fails to present the actual alleged drugs as evidence at trial, the case could be dismissed. Some suspects can utilize the defense that the drugs do not belong to them, particularly if anyone else was with them at the time of the arrest.

These potential defenses will require a great deal of consideration as to a person's specific circumstances. In all cases, a suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Charges relating to drug crimes are a serious matter, however, and those accused here in Utah may find it helpful to have a thorough understanding of what they are up against.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Possession Defenses", , Sept. 8, 2014

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