Depending on the circumstances, drug possession can be a very serious charge; even prescription drugs like Xanax have come under close scrutiny by law enforcement. The trafficking of cocaine, meth, and heroin can land you in some serious trouble and could potentially ruin your future. Halting the trafficking and possession of illegal drugs is the top priority of Florida law enforcement officers. If you are ever charged with possession of an illegal substance, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney that has a strong understanding of this area of law.
Substantial pressure is put on law enforcement officers to bring in drug possessors and traffickers, and these officers may go to the brink of illegality in order to do so. It is important to understand when your rights have been infringed upon by an officer who does not follow protocol to search your person or property for illegal drugs. If you have questions about how an officer carried out a search to find drugs, it is in your best interest to ask a qualified legal professional. At The Law Office of Frank P. Remsen, our experienced criminal defense attorneys will ensure that you understand every one of your rights as they pertain to drug possession.
In Florida, there are at least two ways to “possess” drugs. To “possess” means to have personal charge of or exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the thing possessed.
The first way is through actual possession. There are three ways in which a person can actually possess drugs:
- The drug is in the hand of or on the person, or
- The drug is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
- The drug is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.
For example, if a driver gets pulled over for a traffic stop and the police officer sees marijuana on the driver’s shirt or pants, the driver may be charged with Possession of Cannabis since the drugs were actually on the driver.
The second way a person can be in possession of drugs is through constructive possession. This concept is more complex than actual possession, and it means the drug is in a place over which the person has control, or in which the person has it concealed. In order to prove constructive possession, the court has to prove two things:
- The person had control over the drug
- The person knew that the drug was in their presence or control.
For example, if a sole driver is stopped by a law enforcement officer and the officer sees a bag of marijuana in the back seat, the driver may be charged with Possession of Cannabis.
Florida law also recognizes joint possession, which is when two or more persons can possess the same drug. For example, if a driver and a front seat passenger are stopped for a traffic stop and the police officer finds marijuana in the center console between both car occupants, both driver and passenger could be arrested for Possession of Cannabis.
If you are pulled over and a police officer suspects drug possession, the officer will most likely ask the driver and any passengers about drugs. He may first ask if there are any drugs in the vehicle, and if he finds illegal drugs in his search he may ask for statements as to who the drugs belonged to and whether or not they knew that drugs were in the vehicle. This investigative strategy is used to collect evidence against you. It is imperative that you obtain an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to handle your case. The previous examples outline how a person can be arrested and charged for Drug Possession, but each case is different, and any legal, factual, or evidentiary circumstances could lead to a different result. For the most positive results, it is recommended that you hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney like Frank P. Remsen.