Can Addiction Be Used as Legal Defense for Drug Possession Charges?

Recent medical and psychological studies have shown that there are neurophysiological mechanisms associated with drug addiction. The revelations have created a debate among legal theorists about whether or not addiction diminishes responsibility. While some agree with the theory, others claim that the studies do not involve coercion, compulsion, or irrationality that would excuse an addict from punishment for crimes committed under influence of drugs. The general argument is that in as much as addiction is a disease, addicts are responsible for their condition and failing to take the necessary measures to manage their addiction is not an excuse to commit crimes.prescription pills - drug possession is a crime

So how does the law view addiction and drug possession? If an addict is accused of drug possession, can the fact that he or she is addicted to drugs have any bearing on the case? Can a forensic psychologist recommend drug rehabilitation or another substance abuse treatment program as an alternative to prison?

Voluntary Intoxication and Addiction is Not a Legal Defense

Drug addiction or voluntary intoxication is not a legal defense but can be considered as a reason to reach a favorable resolution. However, this is a fact-specific issue that will be decided based on factors such as the amount of drugs the accused was found in possession of, whether the intent was to sell or use, level of addiction, and willingness to enter into a treatment program.

Addiction can be used as a reason to lessen the sentence after treatment has been completed successfully. Completing the program will help reduce the sentence after conviction. Rehab can even be used as a tool for negotiating a decent plea, especially if you are a first time offender and were found with an insignificant amount of drugs that could not possibly be for sale. However, every case has its unique facts and circumstances so it is important to get advice from a lawyer as soon as you are arrested.

Florida Defenses to Drug Charges

It is also important to know your defense opportunities when facing drug possession charges, whether you are an addict or not. A good criminal defense attorney will help you to determine the best defense for your case if you don’t plead guilty. Every state has its own approach to drug possession cases. However, possession defenses are fairly similar across all states including Florida, which ranks high nationally in drug-related cases.

Defense attorneys will often challenge the facts stated by the prosecution or attack the evidence or testimony given while others target procedural errors, violations during search and seizure, or cite affirmative defense such as the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Your attorney may defend your case in many ways depending on the circumstances and facts of the case.

The available defenses may include, among others:

  • Lack of sufficient evidence
  • Legal prescription for drugs in question
  • Mistaken identity
  • No intent to sell or distribute drugs
  • No probable cause
  • Planted evidence
  • Unknowing possession
  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Coerced confession
  • Crime lab analysis errors
  • Drugs belonged to someone else
  • Entrapment
  • Evidence obtained by the informant with ulterior motives
  • Illegally obtained or utilized search warrant
  • Incorrect drug quantity


Addiction is not a defense for obtaining, using or possessing illegal drugs and substances. However, with the help of a skilled competent attorney, you can use addiction for a plea bargain or explore other available defense options that can help in your case.