What if the drugs found in your car are not yours?
It is common for police to ask to search a vehicle during a stop. It may be your first instinct to say yes because you know that you have nothing to hide. However, this could be a mistake that may lead to your arrest and an incredibly stressful trip to the county jail. Believe it or not you can be arrested if police find someone else’s drugs in your car. Just because it is in your vehicle an officer may have probable cause to arrest you.
Sometimes police find drugs that obviously belong to the person they are dealing with. If drugs are found in your pocket, in your wallet, or in a bag with other items belonging to you, it is almost impossible to argue that you did not know the drugs were there. However, there are other circumstances in which an officer just assumes a person has knowledge of the drug’s presence. It could be a single pill that fell out of someone’s pocket in your car or a small amount of marijuana that was dropped on your floorboard by a passenger. You can absolutely be arrested if an officer finds someone else’s prescription medication in your vehicle.
Exercise your rights.
Knowing your rights and exercising those rights are quite different concepts. Most people know that an officer cannot search through their stuff without a warrant or probable cause that something illegal is going on. Yet, when confronted with the question of searching you or your vehicle, people’s first instinct is to agree. Officers are trained to gain permission based on the way they ask the question.
Be aware, your car is not the same as your body. Other people get in and out of your vehicle daily. No matter how well you think you know your passengers, they can always surprise you. Even your own children could be hiding a drug habit from you. Further, you may have purchased a vehicle used and an officer could find something that has been tucked away for many months.
If an illegal substance is found in your vehicle, but not on you personally, the State will have to establish constructive possession.
How does constructive possession work?
If law enforcement finds drugs in your vehicle and want to charge you, they will try to show you had knowledge of its presence. Knowledge of its presence can be gained in a few ways; by looking for fingerprints or “touch” DNA in the form of skin cells or even by gaining an admission from the person. Even if some of these “proofs” are present there can still be a valid defense. Fingerprints and skin cell DNA could get on a bottle or baggie if someone reaches under a seat and fumbles around to find something that they dropped. Additionally, an admission of guilt may be ultimately ruled inadmissible depending on how and when it was obtained. Constructive possession cases are typically the weakest form of case the State prosecutes.
Consult with a criminal defense attorney.
It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested for possession of drugs. The penalties that come along with possession of drugs can be severe and long lasting. A seasoned drug crimes lawyer should analyze all factors that surround an arrest, beginning with how you encountered an officer in the first place.
Whether you were arrested in Lake County, Sumter County or anywhere else in Central Florida, call Mark Jackson Defense Law to schedule a free consultation in his downtown Tavares office. He will review the evidence with you and discuss your next move. You have rights. Mark Jackson fights to protect them.