Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Can someone face drug charges over something hidden in a car?

Apr 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Florida has relatively strict drug statutes. As a point of entry for some substances arriving by boat, land and air, there is a lot of drug traffic across the state. Many police officers always have an eye out for warning signs of possible drug activity.

Factors ranging from someone’s music to the neighborhood in which a traffic stop occurs might make a police officer question whether there could be drugs on a person or in their vehicle. Sometimes, officers ask to search and then find something that no one expected. As a result, it is important to understand whether a driver or vehicle owner can claim ignorance if they didn’t know that there was a prohibited substance in their vehicle discovered during a search.

Prosecutors and police will make claims of constructive possession

The strongest possession cases are the result of an officer finding drugs directly on people, such as in their pockets or in a purse. Items found on someone’s property or in their vehicle can also lead to charges. However, there is potentially an extra step that the state will have to take to bring charges. They will need to reasonably establish constructive possession or be ready to do so in the courts.

Constructive possession refers to someone’s awareness of certain items and control over those objects. Someone who knows that their passenger put a container of pills under the spare tire in their trunk could face accusations of constructive possession even though everyone agrees the pills weren’t theirs. Someone who had no idea that there was a sandwich baggie full of cocaine under the passenger seat in their vehicle might be able to fight back against claims that they are responsible for those drugs.

To challenge claims of constructive possession, the driver or owner of the vehicle where police found the drugs will typically need to have a reason to claim they did not know those drugs were there and had no way to exert control over them.

Every charge requires a distinct defense

There is no one right defense strategy that always works for people facing certain types of drug charges. The best options truly depend on the circumstances leading to someone’s arrest and the defendant’s record. Reviewing the evidence gathered by the state and discussing one’s case in-depth with an experienced legal professional can help someone determine viable defense strategies when they are facing drug possession charges.


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