What Is ‘Constructive Possession’ Of Drugs?
Possession of drugs is a crime that is taken very seriously in Florida, as the state has one of the highest rates in the U.S. for drug overdoses and arrests. However, what the average person is often unaware of is that you may be charged with drug possession in Florida even if you have no illegal drugs on your person. The state observes a legal theory known as ‘constructive possession’ – the idea that one can legally possess an object even if it is not in their physical control. If you have been charged with constructive possession of drugs, it is crucial that you take such a charge seriously.
Specific Criteria For A Guilty Verdict
There are two types of possession charges in Florida, with one requiring actual possession – that is, being found with an illegal controlled substance on your person, or a mixture of many – and the other requiring constructive possession. While a case involving actual possession of an illegal drug is generally easier for law enforcement to prove, as one might imagine, it can be just as simple to establish a case of constructive possession if the facts of the case warrant it.
In general, there are three requirements that a state’s attorney must prove in order to make a case of constructive possession in court. A defendant must have (1) known of the presence of the substance; (2) have known of their ‘illicit’ nature; and (3) was able to “exercise dominion and control” over the substance. All three of these must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a person of constructive possession of drugs.
Law Enforcement Must Make The Case
The most common cases that involve constructive possession usually have to do with illegal drugs being found in someone’s home or vehicle without that person being present. If, for example, drugs are found in a person’s vehicle, law enforcement may be able to bring charges based on constructive possession because it is likely that the owner knew of the illegal drugs’ presence and exercised ‘dominion and control’ over everything in their personal vehicle.
It is important to keep in mind that mere proximity is not sufficient. Florida courts have held that even if someone is found “approximately 1 foot from … 19 packets of heroin,” this is not sufficient to find someone guilty of possession. Merely being near drugs does not warrant the assumption that someone can exercise “dominion and control” over the substance. Sometimes, law enforcement may jump the proverbial gun in an effort to get a conviction – but your rights are explicitly enumerated.
Call A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney
Constructive possession of illegal drugs is a recognized legal fiction that is used in the effort to lower Florida’s rates of drug abuse. However, for those charged with drug offenses, it can be confusing and frightening. A West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help to answer any questions you may have about these types of charges. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.