In a large drug trafficking case south of Jacksonville, Florida, several defendants were charged with being in possession of 200 to 400 grams of cocaine, which qualifies for a cocaine trafficking charge in Florida. However, the trafficking charge against one of the defendants was thrown out because the state could not prove that he was in actual or constructive possession of the drugs. Actual possession is straightforward- if you are holding drugs or have drugs in your pocket, you are in actual possession of the drugs. Constructive possession is more of a gray area. A person can be convicted of possession of drugs even though the drugs are not actually in the person’s possession. If the person knows of the drugs and has the ability to control the drugs, he can be convicted of possession of the drugs. A good example would be the CD’s in my car. I am not anywhere near them, but I know they are there and I have the ability to access and control them since they are in my car and I have the key.
In this cocaine trafficking case, the police received information that several individuals were manufacturing and selling cocaine from some apartments. The police found cocaine in one of the apartments but only drug paraphernalia in the second apartment. There was no evidence that the defendant had any ownership or control over the apartment with the cocaine. He did have control over the second apartment, but no actual cocaine was found there. When the defendant was arrested, there was no cocaine on his person or in his vicinity. The defendant did not make any statements admitting to possessing any cocaine.
The state did present evidence that suggested the defendant was involved with cocaine, but no actual evidence linking the defendant to the possession of any specific amount of cocaine. As a result, the state could not prove actual or constructive possession of 200 to 400 grams of cocaine, and the drug trafficking charge against him was dismissed.