What if police find drugs in a common area or vehicle?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2024 | Drug Charges

Most Florida drug charges are straightforward. Police officers search someone and find inappropriate items in their pockets or in their backpack. Other times, the situation may be less clear-cut. For example, police officers may find illegal or controlled substances in a shared space.

Maybe there was cocaine hidden in the living room of a shared apartment. None of the adults who live there admit the drugs belong to them, so the state has to decide who is likely the owner of those drugs. Perhaps police officers find prescription pain pills hidden inside a motor vehicle. Neither the driver nor any of the passengers admit that the drugs belong to them.

Even when everyone denies knowing about the drugs, state prosecutors can attempt to bring criminal charges against one or more of the people present. People can face drug possession charges over items found near them or on their property.

There is more than one kind of possession

Actual possession involves someone directly possessing an item on their person. The law in Florida forbids not just actual possession but also constructive possession. Constructive possession is the legal concept that allows for charges based on drugs found in a location, not on a person.

Prosecutors attempt to convince the courts based on the evidence available that one specific person had constructive possession of those drugs. They knew the drugs were there. They also had control over what happened with those drugs. Proximity, criminal records and other factors, like vehicle ownership, may influence who the state decides to charge in a constructive possession case.

People can fight constructive possession claims

Those concerned about the potential impact of a drug conviction can choose to fight their pending charges. There are a variety of defense strategies that can work in a case involving constructive possession. Maybe the police officers conducted an illegal search, or perhaps there is clear evidence tying someone else to those drugs. Defendants may need to go over the state’s evidence carefully with a skilled legal team to determine their best options.

Fighting Florida drug possession charges successfully can allow a defendant to avoid a criminal record and an assortment of different potential penalties. Those who understand how the state intends to build a case can use that information when developing a defense strategy.