BUT THE DRUGS WEREN’T MINE
I’ve seen it so many times I can’t count: car gets pulled over, four people in it, and a bag of drugs is found under one of the seats. Nobody owns up to it and the police pick somebody in the car and arrest them (or everyone). So, what is possession under Florida law? Can the government prove the drugs were yours?
There are two different types of possession under Florida law: (1) actual possession and (2) constructive possession. “Actual possession” is what it sounds like – the police found you actually possessing the drugs, whether they were in your pocket, in your purse, or in the backpack you were carrying. “Constructive possession” is an entirely different animal. Constructive possession means that, while it wasn’t on you, the evidence is enough to prove that the drugs were yours. In order to prove this the government has to establish that you had knowledge that the drugs were there and that you could exercise “dominion and control” over the drugs. Another of way of saying “dominion and control” is to say that the stuff was yours; you could take it and walk away with it.
Our car scenario is a constructive possession case, and one that can easily be won. Under Florida law if there is more than one person in the car then it cannot be presumed that the drugs belonged to any one person. This means that, short of a confession, the government cannot prove “dominion and control” of the drugs on the floorboard. And, because the drugs were under the seat and not in plain view, the government cannot even prove that you knew the drugs were there. So, there you have, case won, charges dropped.
Drug convictions carry serious penalties in our state. You could become a convicted felon, you could lose your driver’s license, and you could go to jail. Hiring the right lawyer is an important decision. These cases are incredibly fact specific and your lawyer needs to know the laws of this state inside and out. A good lawyer can usually read the arrest report and see the red flags right away. Grab your police report and call us for a free consultation.