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Utah Drug Crimes Attorney - Salt Lake Defense Lawyer

Question: Can I be charged with drug or marijuana possession in Utah if all the drugs have been used before police get there?

Answer: The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. Utah's drug possession statute (Utah Code 58-37-8) prohibits either possession OR use of a controlled substance. Thus, while it may be more difficult for police to obtain the necessary evidence to support the charge, a criminal charge may still be possible even if all of the drugs have been used or consumed by the time police arrive.  Consider the following hypothetical situation.

Utah Marijuana Defense LawyerMary Jane has just finished smoking her last marijuana joint when the police knock on the door. There is no other marijuana or drug paraphernalia in the house. She opens the door, and the police officer states that he has a search warrant and intends to search the house. As he enters the house, the officer detects the odor of burned marijuana. The officer asks Mary Jane if she has been smoking marijuana or has any marijuana in her possession. Mary Jane politely states that she is exercising her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The officer searches the house, and finds no evidence relating to drugs, marijuana, or drug paraphernalia.

In this hypothetical situation, it is unlikely that any drug charges could be filed against Mary Jane. The police have no physical evidence. The police have no admissions or incriminating statements from Mary Jane. The Constitution provides a presumption of innocence at trial, and there is no evidence sufficient to rebut that presumption. There is, therefore, no basis for filing a drug charge against Mary Jane.

Consider now an alternate hypothetical situation. This time, instead of invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, Mary Jane responds to the police officer by stating, "I just smoked my last marijuana joint five minutes before you got here. There is nothing left in the house for you to find. Go ahead and search." In this alternate hypothetical, Mary Jane may have just given the police the evidence that they need to convict her of a marijuana possession charge.

Under the Utah Rules of Evidence, hearsay statements are generally not admissible at trial. Exceptions to the hearsay rules exist for admissions or confessions made by a criminal defendant. Such a statement may be admitted either as an admission by a party opponent or as a statement against interest.

Under either exception, a jury is likely to hear the police officer testify that Mary Jane admitted to him that she had smoked marijuana just five minutes before the police arrived. Because Utah's statute governing possession of a controlled substance (including marijuana) prohibits either possession OR use, Mary Jane's statements may be viewed by a jury as a full confession to all of the required elements of a drug crime. C

Finding a Utah Drug Defense in Salt Lake City

Utah Criminal LawyerCriminal defense attorney Stephen Howard defends drug crimes ranging from first-degree felony distribution to simple marijuana possession. With a practice based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has a track record that includes dismissals and not-guilty verdicts on some of the most serious crimes on the books in Utah.

Contact us today to arrange for a confidential consultation.

RELATED QUESTIONS:
Can I be convicted of a crime based only on my own confession?
Can I be convicted of drug possession in Utah if someone claims the drugs?
What is the penalty for marijuana possession in Utah?


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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