Can you be charged for drugs without possession?

Can you be charged for drugs without possession?

You do not have to be in actual possession of drugs to still be charged with possession of drugs. In other words, you don’t need to be holding the drugs or even have them in your pocket.

Constructive possession refers to a situation where drugs are found in an area which is under your dominion and control. Examples could be a vehicle where you are the only occupant, the vehicle is registered to you and the drugs are on the floorboard or console nearby. It could also be a situation in a home where the drugs are sitting out on a kitchen counter and you’re the only one in the home. In instances like these a jury is permitted by the court to infer that the drugs were in your possession even though they were not on your person. It’s a question of fact and the jury may or may not believe that the State has proven that you are in possession.

A jury is not permitted to infer that you were in possession in a situation of joint constructive possession. This is when drugs are not on you and the area you are in, whether it be a car, a home or a building, is also under the control of other people. In other words if drugs are found in a house in which you live and someone else also lives there, the jury is not permitted to infer that you had possession of the drugs unless they were in plain view with you nearby. If the drugs are hidden, for example in a closet, there is a reasonable hypothesis of innocence (that other people could have placed the drugs there) and the court must dismiss the case if you did not admit that the drugs were yours.

In Federal court, there are also situations in which you may be charged with Conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to distribute. In that situation, all the Government has to prove is that you agreed with one or more people to further an unlawful plan. There are many things you can do to further an unlawful plan to distribute drugs without ever actually possessing them.

If you have been charged with a drug crime and you never actually possessed drugs it is important that you contact an experienced criminal drug attorney that understands the law and what the State and Government can and cannot prove.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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