What Is Constructive Possession Of Drugs?
When a person is arrested and charged with drug possession in Florida, normally law enforcement can make the arrest if they discover drugs on them. However, you may also be charged with drug possession if illicit substances are found in your car, or in another location that is under your control. This is referred to as constructive possession, and while it can be difficult to tell when it applies to your case, it can be used to convict you. Having an experienced attorney on your side can help ease your mind.
Simple vs Constructive Possession
There are two major criteria that a Florida State’s Attorney has to establish before they can charge a person with possession of drugs: (1) the defendant’s knowing possession of the drugs; and (2) the illegal nature of the substance. In other words, the substance in question must be illegal, and the arrested person must have had knowledge of the presence of drugs. In a case of simple possession, where the drugs are found on a person, these criteria are fairly easy to meet.
If the drugs are not on you, however, constructive possession becomes an issue, since possession cannot simply be verified by eyewitness evidence – for example, if drugs are hidden in a vehicle that is used by many different people, a defendant can simply argue that one of the other drivers owned the drugs. Florida law defines constructive possession as having three criteria instead of two: not only knowledge of the presence of drugs, and the knowledge that the substance in question is illegal, but also control over the drugs or the place where they are located. All three of these factors must be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
Penalties Are The Same
It is important to understand that beyond the three criteria specified, most constructive possession cases do not have any kind of smoking gun that will immediately establish potential culpability. They are generally very specific to their individual situations, which means that it is crucial that you have an attorney on your side who can read a case and understand how best to attack the facts. Any evidence that you lacked control over the location of the drugs, or lacked knowledge as to their presence or illegality, is crucial to present.
Keep in mind, as well, that whether you face charges of simple possession or constructive possession of drugs, the penalties if you are convicted will be the same. Depending on the drug in question (which schedule it belonged to) and the amount found by law enforcement, you may face charges ranging from a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, to 5 years in prison for a third-degree felony. If you are found with enough of a certain drug, you will be charged not with possession, but with trafficking – a large amount in one person’s possession is assumed to be for purposes of sale.
Call A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney
Possessing drugs is never a good idea, but it is important to know that the mere act of having control over drugs can put a person in just as much trouble as if you had them in your pockets. If you have been charged with drug possession in Florida, a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can try and help you navigate the legal process. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.