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Can The State Prove You Guilty On A Drug Charge? Check Out This Info On Elements & Defenses

Can the Prosecution Prove You Guilty?  Or is There a Defense that Will Help Your Case?

If you’ve been charged with a crime, the Prosecution has the burden to prove you guilty.  If they don’t have enough evidence, or the right kind of evidence, they may not be able to prove you guilty!

Elements of a Crime

All crimes have certain “Elements” that must be met in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty.  If we can prevent them from being able to prove even one element, you are going to have a much better chance of getting the outcome you want!

So what is an Element of a crime?  The best way to explain it is to just show the elements for Possession of Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS).  Elements are different for every crime, but all Drug related crimes will have similar elements.

SIMPLE POSSESSION – POSSESSION OF CDS

The Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions states that:

No person may be convicted of possession of a controlled dangerous substance unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:

First, knowing and intentional;

Second, possession;

Third, of the controlled dangerous substance of [Name of Substance].

This means that, in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty of Possession of CDS (“Simple Possession”), they have to prove that you: knowingly and intentionally possessed a specific type of CDS (marijuna, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, crack, LSD, prescription medication without a prescription, etc).  There is no amount element – so for simple possession, they do not have to prove that you possessed any certain amount, it could be just residue or a left over smoked blunt.

POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE

If you were charged with a different drug charge, for example, Possession With Intent to Distribute, the elements would be similar, but different.

The Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions states that:

No person may be convicted of possession with intent to manufacture/distribute a controlled dangerous substance unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:

First, knowing and intentional;

Second, possession;

Third, of the controlled dangerous substance of [Name of Substance];

Fourth, with an intent to manufacture/distribute [Name of Substance].

This means that, in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty of Possession of CDS With Intent to Distribute, they have to prove that you: knowingly and intentionally possessed a particular CDS, and that you intended to distribute it; in other words, it was more than just “personal use.”  The prosecution usually considers things like the amount of the CDS in your possession, the packaging, and whether there were scales or baggies in your possession.  

 TRAFFICKING IN ILLEGAL DRUGS

One more example of elements for drug offenses – if you have been charged with Trafficking in CDS, the elements would be different because the weight of the CDS is included.

The Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions states that:

No person may be convicted of trafficking in illegal drugs unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:

First, knowingly;

Seconddistributed/manufactured/(brought into Oklahoma)/possessed;

Third[Specify Amount of Controlled Dangerous Substance from 63 O.S. Supp. 2000, § 2-415(C)] of [Specify Controlled Dangerous Substance].

This means that, in order for the prosecution to be able to prove you guilty of Trafficking CDS, they have to prove that you: knowingly possessed a certain quantity of CDS.  The weight element varies depending on what type of CDS you are accused of possessing.  For example, trafficking in marijuana requires proof that you possessed 25 pounds of marijuana, trafficking in cocaine requires proof that you possessed 28 grams of cocaine, trafficking in meth requires proof that you possessed 20 grams of meth, etc.

ADDITIONAL DRUG CHARGES

There are other drug charges, but hopefully the above information gives you an idea of the types of things that the prosecution has to prove, and the potential defenses that can be used to your advantage.  Other drug charges include:

  • Distribution of CDS,
  • Manufacturing CDS,
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and
  • Maintaining a Place Where Drugs are Stored, etc.

DEFENSES TO DRUG CHARGES

As you can see, the elements for the various drug related charges are similar.  So the Defenses that we would explore would involve looking at potential weaknesses in any of these elements.

  • You did not have possession of the substance,
  • You did not know the CDS was present,
  • You did not have access or control of the CDS,
  • You did not intent to distribute the CDS,
  • The drugs belonged to someone else,
  • The weight requirement has not been proven,
  • You had less than the required amount,
  • The substance was not actually CDS, etc.

 

If you have been charged with a Drug Crime, contact Fassio Law today by phone or e-mail so that we can help you!  405-593-8444 or clientrelations@fassiolaw.com

Serving the OKC Metro Area: Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City, Edmond), Cleveland County (Norman, Moore) and Canadian County (El Reno, Yukon, Mustang)