Florida has some of the strictest drug laws in the entire country and violating them will result in harsh penalties. Most people are aware that if they are caught consuming drugs or with a controlled substance on them, they will face criminal charges. Many others though, are surprised to find charges are being laid against them when they did not have drugs on their person. These types of charges are usually due to constructive possession, a term some people have never heard before they are charged with a crime. Below, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer explains what you need to know about this term.
Actual vs. Constructive Possession
In most drug cases, law enforcement finds an illicit substance on someone, or they discover a person consuming an illegal drug. In these instances, law enforcement will usually use blood tests to determine if the person consumed it. These cases are considered cases of actual drug possession because police will not lay charges until there is real proof that a person had an illegal drug on them at the time of arrest.
On the other hand, charges for constructive drug possession do not have the same requirement of physical evidence. Instead, the prosecution and law enforcement must only show that a person had knowledge and control over the drug.
For example, you may own a vehicle that is in your name and you have the keys to the car. You have constructive possession of the car even if you are not currently operating it because you have control over and access to the vehicle. As such, if law enforcement found an illegal drug in the trunk of the vehicle, you could face constructive possession charges.
Defending Constructive Possession Charges
Due to the fact that constructive possession charges do not accompany hard evidence, these cases are very difficult for the prosecution to prove. To secure a conviction against you, the prosecution must prove two elements of the case. They must prove that you knew of the illegal substance and that you had control over it.
To prove that you knew of the drug, the prosecution must show that you knew it existed. Using the same car example as above, it is true that if drugs are in your vehicle, it could be said that you had control over the substance. However, consider if your friend is riding in your vehicle with you when you are pulled over by police. Scared, your friend takes a bag of marijuana out of their pocket and places it underneath the seat of the car without you knowing about it. You had no knowledge of the drug even though it was in your vehicle and so, you cannot be convicted.
Additionally, if your friend left the bag of drugs in their pocket, you would not have had control over it, even though the drugs were technically in your vehicle. This situation could also shield you from conviction.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando Can Help with Your Possession Charges
Constructive possession is extremely difficult for law enforcement and the prosecution to prove. At O’Mara Law Group, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer knows how to refute the arguments made against you to give you the best chance of retaining your freedom. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or contact us online to schedule a consultation so we can review your case.