When faced with a potential first-time possession charge, the main thing is not to panic and not to answer police questions without a lawyer present, criminal defense attorney Edward R. La Rue, founding partner of the Cleveland Law Offices of Edward R. La Rue asserts. —
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While possession can carry different levels of seriousness in terms of charges and the range of sentencing outcomes, there are still a number of defense strategies open to a person to pursue.
“First and foremost, if the police arrest you, you should tell them you will exercise your right to remain silent,” said La Rue.
The next step is to locate and contact a criminal defense lawyer; ideally one who specializes in these types of charges. You will need to fully understand how much trouble you are in, and what the future outlook could be.
A charge faced for possession in Ohio can range from a minor misdemeanor to a first-degree felony with mandatory imprisonment. Punishment can range from a simple fine to a potential period of decades in prison.
The severity of the offense can also depend on a number of contributing factors, such as the type and how much of the substance was recovered, whether the crime was committed near a school, in the presence or close proximity to a juvenile, or if a firearm was recovered in the arrest.
La Rue said an experienced attorney would assess the best, valid defense a person may have depending upon the facts of their case.
He said defenses could involve arguments that the substance was not yours in the first place (depending upon whether you touched the container within which they were found), or the fact that a car or home in which the substance was found was regularly accessed by friends and multiple people, and therefore the substance was not yours.
Under certain circumstances, your case might be thrown out because of an illegal search and/or seizure, a lack of chain of custody relating to an error in confiscating or storing the evidence, errors in substance testing, or even possible entrapment by investigators.
La Rue concluded: “I would advise anyone facing a first-time possession charge to stay calm, respectfully assert their legal rights to say nothing to the police, and contact a lawyer immediately to enable them to mount a strong defense.”
Name: Edward R. La Rue
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