The pregame gathering is wrapping up at your apartment. It is time to head to the real party across campus. You volunteer to drive. Your roommate asks if his high school buddy can hitch a ride. Sure, why not? He seems like a cool dude.

Hours later you are facing arraignment before a judge. Police found a gram of cocaine in your vehicle after an officer pulled you over for failing to use a turn signal. You have no idea how this happened, but the consequences are sinking in.

In Missouri, possession of a controlled substance except 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Any drug conviction can hurt your chances of attending graduate school, retaining financial aid or landing a job.

Mistakes are easy to make, especially when you are younger. They can have a major impact on your future. Authorities can also make mistakes when gathering evidence. That is why it is important to scrutinize their conduct and the circumstances of your case.

Know the rules

A prosecutor needs to prove that you possessed or controlled the drug when trying to secure a guilty plea or conviction. You also have constitutional rights police need to uphold when they stop, detain and search you.

You can challenge an improper search and seizure. If a judge determines police did not properly follow procedures, they could throw out evidence collected against you.

The facts in a criminal case are not always what they seem. There might be a way to show the drugs found in your vehicle were not yours. Or challenge how laboratory scientists produced their results and whether law enforcement secured the evidence each step of the way.

One night of fun could have major consequences. If arrested, you have options to defend yourself that might not seem apparent right away.

Move forward

If you are ever charged with drug possession, there might be a way to fight back. Your attorney may be able to use information about what happened as part of a defense which could lead to the best possible outcome and allow you to move forward.