Can you get your drug cases thrown out?

I’m Northern Virginia criminal defense attorney, Scott Nolan, and today I’d like to talk to you about getting your drug cases dismissed. Obviously, the most important way and the easiest way not to be convicted of a drug charge is not to be charged with one. Don’t possess the illegal drugs. That’s the easy way.

Having said that, let’s talk about the specifics.

Was the search legal?

The most common way drug cases are thrown out prior to a trial is when the search that resulted in the police finding the drugs was illegal. Yet almost all searches are completely legal because you, the searchee, permitted it.

As we’ve discussed elsewhere, police can search you if they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Typically, that’s because they see the drugs sitting there in your car, or they see the drug paraphernalia around you. Or they may have a warrant although that’s really rare.

But far and away the most common way the police gain the right to search you is because you say, “Okay,” and you let them.

The correct answer

When the police say, “May I search you?” the correct answer is, “No.” When the police say, “It’s all right if I search your car, right?” The correct answer is, “No, officer. Respectfully, it is not okay.”

Now, don’t be mistaken. They’re still going to search you. It doesn’t matter what you say. You’re still getting searched, and so is your car. Later, though, when you get a good attorney, that search could well be thrown out.

Don’t give them permission

But that won’t happen if you gave them permission to search. Don’t say, “I guess it’s okay.” Don’t say, “Whatever.” The answer you should give is an unequivocal “No, you may not search.”

If you made that unequivocal statement, then it is possible that your attorney could get that case thrown out because the search itself was unconstitutional. And that means that the evidence from the search has to be thrown out.

It doesn’t happen all that often, but it would happen a lot more often if every single person understood their rights under the Fourth Amendment and said these simple words, “No, officer. I do not consent to any searches.” It’s not that hard.

Don’t talk

The second really easy way to get drug cases thrown out is very similar to the first one, and it’s all about you. This means, don’t talk. In my 20 years of being a criminal defense attorney, I have defended thousands of drug possession cases. And in nearly every case, some of the primary evidence against my client came from my client’s own lips.

When they saw that the police found something illegal, they quickly wanted to make excuses or explain or make deals. They felt compelled. Something was welling up deep inside them and they just had to speak. And cops are praying for that. They love it. It is like handing them candy.

What you should do

When the police find evidence and say, “Aha! Look at what we have!” most people are going to start talking. Don’t you be that guy. The police might say, “Well, we found this in your car. What do you have to say?” You should say, “I would like to speak to my attorney, please.”

They will probably reply, “Well, we’re not going to let you talk to your attorney yet.” Your response should be, “Then I have nothing to say.” The police is likely to respond, “Well, we’re going to arrest you. We’re going to charge you with these drugs.” Your reply should be, “I understand that. I have nothing to say.”

If you were hoping for some lawyer magic in this video, I’m sorry to disappoint, but all the magic needs to be on your end. Don’t give the police the authority to search your vehicle and definitely don’t give them more evidence than they already have.

If you have any questions about getting your drug case thrown out or about any other aspect of the law, give me a call. I’d be happy to talk to you about it.