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Elements that defendants can challenge for drug distribution

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | Criminal Law

In Texas, drug distribution charges are serious and come with severe penalties. Being proactive about building a robust defense is helpful.

Defendants facing these charges need to be aware of several critical elements that they may be able to challenge in court.

Possession with intent to distribute

Simply possessing illegal drugs is not enough to be charged with distribution. The prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to distribute the drugs. Evidence such as large quantities of drugs, packaging materials, scales or large sums of cash can infer intent. Defendants can challenge the intent to distribute by questioning the sufficiency and relevance of the evidence.

Controlled substance identification

Another element is the identification of the controlled substance. The prosecution must prove that the substance in question is indeed an illegal drug under Texas law. This usually occurs through chemical analysis conducted by forensic laboratories. Defendants can challenge the accuracy of these tests, the handling of the evidence and the qualifications of the personnel who conducted the analysis.

Chain of custody

The prosecution must account for every person who handled the evidence from its seizure to its presentation in court. Defendants can challenge any breaks or inconsistencies in the chain of custody, which may lead to the evidence being inadmissible.

Search and seizure legality

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. In a drug distribution case, the legality of how authorities obtained the evidence may come into play. Defendants can challenge the circumstances of the search and seizure, including whether there was a valid warrant or if any exceptions to the warrant requirement apply.

Entrapment defense

In some cases, defendants may argue that law enforcement officials entrapped them. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement induces a person to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. Defendants can challenge the actions of undercover officers or informants to prove unfair persuasion or coercion into distributing drugs.

Each of these elements provides an opportunity to scrutinize the prosecution’s case and seek a fair outcome.