What does a claim of constructive drug possession mean?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Drug charges are typically levied after law enforcement officers have collected evidence related to a suspected violation of drug statutes. Many people end up accused of simple possession. They have an encounter with law enforcement while they have a prohibited or controlled substance in their pockets or in their bodies.

The state then documents the defendant’s chemical state or what officers find during a search to justify criminal charges. Some people end up facing criminal allegations even though police officers did not actually find drugs on their person. Sometimes, Florida prosecutors bring drug charges by establishing a claim of constructive possession. What actually constitutes constructive possession?

Constructive possession is a complex concept

Actual possession is simple to establish and easy to understand. It involves someone having a drug that they should not. A prosecutor alleges that drugs belonged to someone due to having the drug directly in their possession.

In a constructive possession case, the state tries to establish that a defendant had control over the drugs and knew about their presence even though they didn’t physically possess them. The person closest to the drugs found in a public setting or a vehicle could face charges of constructive possession. Other times, it might be the person whose house the drugs are in or the owner of the vehicle who faces charges.

Defense is different in constructive possession cases

The right defense strategy to use when facing Florida drug charges is very different from one case to the next. What works for someone accused of possession based on chemical test results is very different than what works for someone accused of constructive possession.

Defendants might establish that they have never handled the drugs by referring to the state’s forensic evidence. Proof of shared access to a vehicle or living space could also play a role in someone’s defense strategy. In some cases, it may even be possible to establish that the drugs police officers found belonged to a specific individual other than the defendant. The goal is to raise questions about whether someone actually knew a drug was present. If they weren’t aware, they couldn’t have controlled what happened with the drug.

Reviewing the state’s evidence with a skilled criminal defense attorney can help people evaluate defense strategies for drug charges. Accusations of constructive possession often require a very specific approach to one’s criminal defense.