Understanding Possession in Drug Charges
They say that possession is nine-tenths of the law. When it comes to drug possession charges, it is ten-tenths. You would not believe how many times a client has come into our office saying: “But the drugs were not even mine!” Drugs typically do not have receipts or bills of sale. Nor is there a title or deed that tells police that you own them. In other words, if you are pulled over and the drugs are in your car, you will be charged with possession, even when one of your friends took the drugs out of their pocket and stuffed it between the seats.
What is Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance?
In order to establish that illegal possession has occurred, the state must show that the substance is illegal to possess according to state or federal law and that your possession of the substance is illegal or invalid. In other words, they must show that you have no legal right to possess the substance.
As an example, medical marijuana or opioid-based pain medication can be possessed legally by certain individuals. However, for other individuals, it would be a crime to possess those substances.
To successfully convict someone of drug possession, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements:
- You knew the controlled substance was there – Even if the drugs do not strictly belong to you, the police can charge you with possession if you knew the drugs were there and permitted them into your home or car. If you exert any kind of control over the drugs, you can be charged with possession. However, if you claim that someone brought the drugs into your home without your knowledge, the prosecution will have to prove that you did know.
- Actual or constructive control – While the majority of drug possession charges involve those who have drugs on their person or property, the prosecution needs to show that you had either actual or constructive control. Actual control would be physical control. The drugs were found in your pocket, for instance. If drugs are found in your car, under a seat, or somewhere in your home, the police will assume that you had constructive control over the drug. You can dispute this with the help of your lawyer.
- Shared possession – Many have been pulled over by a police officer who asked a group of people who the drugs belonged to. When no one answered, they charged everyone in the car with possession. In Indiana as elsewhere, multiple people can be charged with possession of the same drugs. All the prosecution needs to show is that you had partial control or knowledge that the drug was being brought into your car or home.
Talk to a Fort Wayne Drug Possession Attorney Today
If you have been charged with possession of drugs, The Bellinger Law Office can help you defend yourself against the charges. Talk to us today for more details.