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Perlet & Shiner, P.A. West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer
  • WEST PALM BEACH CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Defining Constructive Possession In Florida Drug Offenses

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If you have been charged with drug possession, it can be confusing and intimidating, particularly if you have not been in trouble with the law before. One of the most difficult concepts to understand for many is the idea of constructive possession, which is possession without actually being stopped with the substance on one’s person. It is important to understand what you are being charged with and what evidence the prosecutor must show in order to obtain a conviction.

Control Is The Key

In order to establish what Florida prosecutors refer to as simple possession of drugs, they must establish two things: that you knew the drug was unlawful to possess, and that you had control of it. It is relatively easy to establish that you had control of a substance if it is found on your person or in your handbag – but possession can also be “constructive” if you had control over the place where the drugs were located, and you knew that the substance was there.

The most common example of constructive possession is when drugs are found after a lawful search of a vehicle. If law enforcement legally searches a vehicle that belongs to you, and they find illegal drugs, they can arrest you for constructive possession because you have control over the vehicle, and it can be assumed that you are aware of and in control of all the items that might be found in it.

Hard To Defend Oneself

While it is very easy to establish constructive possession in many situations, there are some occasions where culpability is less clear-cut. The doctrine of constructive possession is a very fact-specific one, and it is based in common law, meaning that it has been refined by past court decisions rather than being clearly spelled out in a relevant statute. What this means for you, if you have been charged with drug possession, is that you may be able to assert a defense that calls your control over the substance into question.

A prosecutor must prove both that you knew the substance in question was illegal, and that you had control over the substance and/or the place where it was located. If you can cast reasonable doubt on either factor, the case will fail. However, the doctrine is so case-specific that there is no particular foolproof strategy for defending yourself against these claims. The best option in most cases is to consult an experienced attorney who can advise you about how best to proceed.

Call A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney

Charges of simple drug possession (as opposed to drug trafficking or sales) still carry up to 1 year in jail, plus fines and costs. If you have been charged with this offense, a West Palm Beach drug crimes lawyer from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help answer your questions and ensure your rights are protected. Call our offices today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0893/Sections/0893.13.html

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