Police in Florida Could Not Prove Constructive Possession of Drugs Found in Hotel Room

For any type of drug possession case, there are two ways the state can prove the crime in Florida. The easiest way is with an actual possession case. Actual possession is what it sounds like. If a person is holding the drugs or has drugs in his/her pocket or is actually possessing the drugs in any other way, that is an actual possession case that is likely easy to prove. However, even if a person does not have actual possession of the drugs, the state can still prove a drug possession case. The other form of possession is called constructive possession. This can be proven when the state establishes that the defendant knew of the drugs and had some ability to control the drugs. For instance, I have constructive possession of the sunglasses in my car even though they are nowhere near me. I know they are there, I have the keys to the car and I am the only one who drives my car.

Constructive possession cases get difficult for the state when there are multiple people who have access to the drugs. For instance, in a possession of Methamphetamine case near Jacksonville, Florida, police responded to a suspicious person call at a hotel. They went to one of the rooms and knocked on the door. A man and a woman were inside. The police got consent to search the room and found Methamphetamine in a pocket of a jacket in the room. It was not clear if the jacket belonged to the man, the woman or someone else. There was also a syringe presumably used to shoot the drugs in the room. The police asked the woman if her DNA would show up on the syringe, and she said yes. She was arrested for possession of Methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

This case was ultimately thrown out. The state could not prove that the woman had knowledge and control over the Methamphetamine to the exclusion of the other guy in the room or anyone else who could have been in the room before the police arrived. The state lacked evidence that the jacket belonged to the woman. It could have belonged to the man or someone else. The state did not get any statements tying the woman to the Methamphetamine or the jacket. There was no other meaningful evidence connecting the woman to the Methamphetamine or the jacket that was sufficient to prove possession. In other words, the state did not have enough evidence to prove that any one person possessed the drugs as opposed to any other person. In these situations, constructive possession cases fail. If the police had obtained a statement from the woman or a witness or fingerprints or something indicating the jacket belonged to the woman, they would have had a stronger case. However, if multiple people have access to the drugs and the evidence does not specifically point to one of those people, the constructive possession case will likely fail.

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