Constructive Possession and Florida Drug Charges
If you are arrested and charged with possession of drugs, it is all too easy to confess or plead to something you did not do, just to get away from the legal process. However, doing so can change your life forever. Knowledge of the criteria that Florida prosecutors must prove before you can be found guilty can make a huge difference – including familiarity with the legal doctrine of constructive possession. An experienced attorney can help you to make sense of these legal terms.
Control Is The Issue
In order to make a charge of drug possession stick in Florida, the prosecution must establish three specific items: (1) the defendant knew that possession of the drugs was illegal; (2) the defendant had the drugs at a certain location; and (3) the drugs were within the defendant’s control. Two of the criteria are fairly self-explanatory, but “within the defendant’s control” is a sentence that is often up for debate. Obviously, physical control might qualify – if you have drugs on your person, more specifically – but there are methods by which you can be said to have control of something without having it on you.
Constructive possession is a doctrine that holds that if a person knows that something is present in their immediate vicinity, and they have the ability to control it, they de facto possess it, even if it is not on their person. So, if you know that there are drugs in your vehicle, and you are stopped by a police officer for speeding, you may be cited for possession of those drugs if they are found, because they are both (1) present and (2) under your control. This is not well understood by the average person, so it can seem to come out of left field if you are charged with possession.
Assumption Is Not Proof
It may seem unfair to convict a person based on an assumption, and in some cases, Florida courts agree with this. If, for example, drugs or other contraband are found in a place where more than one person could fulfill the three criteria, constructive possession cannot be ascribed to either; the court will not convict a person without “independent proof.” In addition, if only circumstantial evidence exists against a person, the courts have held that “guilt cannot rest on mere probabilities.”
If constructive possession can be alleged against you, however, there may still be defenses. A logical alternative explanation for the situation may be accepted if you can establish that no evidence exists that is inconsistent – for example, if a defendant argues that he was smoking tobacco, rather than marijuana, and his toxicology screen is clear, it can be reasonably inferred that the defendant was smoking tobacco.
Call A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney
Too often, the average person may face drug possession charges when they may have had no idea that anything illegal was in their control. If this is you, calling a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney at the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. is a good idea – our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the legal process. Contact our offices today to set up a consultation.