G. Thayer Williamson Your Drug Crime Attorney

How do most people in Texas get arrested for possession of a controlled substance?

How do most people get arrested for possession of a controlled substance? The short answer is a DWI arrest. How does this happen? The answer is fairly straight forward based on the case law. I'll explain:

1) First, a police officer only needs reasonable suspicion to temporarily detain an individual. In the context of a DWI investigation, this is usually some sort of a traffic violation. After the Officer has detained the individual for the traffic violation, the officer needs probable cause to make an arrest. This usually occurs when the officer conducts the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Most people fail these tests, because these tests are designed for failure. If an individual fails the SFST's the officer now has probable cause to make an arrest for driving while intoxicated.

2) Once the Officer has made an arrest for DWI, the Officer is legally allowed to perform two very important tasks. One, the Officer is legally allowed to perform an inventory of the vehicle. This means that the Officer can LEGALLY search the entire vehicle. Two, the Officer is also LEGALLY entitled to search the person that he or she has arrested.

3) In the real world, this means that once an individual has been arrested for a DWI, the Officer can search the person and the vehicle for illegal substances. In my experience, this is how 75% of my clients have been arrested for a possession charge.

4) If the search was legal how can I fight these charges? That is a good question and the answer is very complex. In short, the best way to fight this type of charge is to contest the reason for the initial stop or dentition. If a defendant can show that he or she didn't commit the initial traffic offense, then all the evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop can be suppressed.

5) Another way to fight a possession charge is to attack the State's burden of proving that the defendant had actual care, custody, and control of the illegal substance. In some cases this is very easy to accomplish, and very difficult is other cases. For example: an individual is pulled over for speeding and arrested for driving while intoxicated. The police find a small amount of cocaine in the glove box. If the defendant didn't own the car he or she was driving, the State will have a very difficult time proving that the Defendant knew or was aware of the illegal substance thus the Defendant did not have actual care, custody, and control of the illegal substance.

As always, if you, or a loved one, or a friend has been arrested, the best advice is to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney before going to Court.