Posted On: February 3, 2010 by Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon

Constructive Possession of Illegal Drugs in Florida

We have written many times on this criminal law blog about drug cases that were dismissed because they were weak constructive possession cases. In other words, drugs were found near (or sometimes not even near) multiple people, and the police tried to pin the drugs on one or more of those people without being able to prove that any of them had knowledge and actual control over the illegal drugs. However, sometimes, the police and the state can prove a drug case against a person based on constructive possession of illegal drugs.

When the police and the state rely on constructive possession in Florida, that is not always an automatic dismissal of the drug charges. Many of the constructive possession of drug cases are weak, however some of them have some merit to them. We recently read about a case that took place just south of Jacksonville, Florida in Daytona Beach where a person was convicted of possession of crack cocaine on a constructive possession theory.

In this case, two people were in a car that was stopped by police. The driver was arrested for driving with a suspended license, and the car was searched. The police found a bag of crack cocaine on the floorboard on the passenger side of the vehicle where the defendant had been sitting. He was charged with and convicted of possession of cocaine.

Normally, just being close to the illegal drugs is not enough for the officer to arrest a person nor for a conviction on drug charges. However, in this case, the judge determined that the drugs were located right where the defendant was sitting and within arm's reach of the defendant only. The defendant would still have arguments that he did not know the drugs were there, someone else placed them there previously or the other occupant of the vehicle threw the drugs down there when he saw the officer. There are always defenses in a constructive possession of drugs case. However, there are also times when a judge or a jury decides there is sufficient evidence to go forward on a drug case even when possession of the drugs is just constructive.