Building a Defense for Second Offense Drug Charges

Below, a Virginia Beach drug lawyer discusses defense strategies for clients’ facing second drug charges.

I start from the beginning of the incident in question and dissect each step in the process of bringing charges against my client. The first thing to determine is whether the police officer had a valid reason to stop my client in the first place. Most of these cases happen when someone is pulled over by law enforcement officers and it is usually for something unrelated to the drugs, such as speeding or another traffic infraction. There has to be a valid reason for the officer to stop because without a valid reason, then the drug charges are not valid either.

After that, the officer needs probable cause to search the defendant for the drugs. Officers cannot search someone’s car for a traffic infraction unless there is probable cause to do so. An example of a common type of probable cause is when the officer says that he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle of the defendant and then he searches to locate the source. Without probable cause or consent from the defendant the officer cannot perform a legal search.

The next step is to determine whether there is no alternative explanation available for the charge. For example sometimes it is not 100% clear that the drugs belonged to the defendant, even if they were found in the defendant’s vehicle. There are a lot of opportunities to shed reasonable doubt on the facts of the case and it is really important to know what happened in detail in order to be able to do so adequately with a strong defense.

How Does This Defense Differ From A First Time Drug Offense In Terms Of Your Defending Of The Case?

No matter what number of charges it is, the process of dissecting the case from the beginning to end is the same. I always start from the reason the officer stopped the defendant, then move on to the interaction between the officer and defendant that ultimately leads to the arrest of the defendant.

However, defending a second offense is different from a first in terms of the possible outcomes, because the option of deferred disposition is no longer available. The only possibility is that the defendant has is either guilty or not guilty.

With first time offenses the client usually rests a little easier knowing that if they are not successful in the trial for having the charges dismissed then the fallback option of a deferred disposition could still help them to save their criminal record a little bit. Without this option, the stakes are higher and it is even more important to make sure that there is strong defense available.