Imagine a friend has invited you to join him and some others on his boat. You agree. As you board the boat, he hands you what you know is an ounce of cocaine and asks you to put it in an ice chest. Later, another guest asks you if you know where the drugs are. You say yes and help the friend find the drugs and give her some. You are not concerned. You have no plans to use the drugs.
Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard stops the boat suspecting a safety violation. The owner/driver gives Coast Guardsmen permission to board the boat and, since someone left the ice chest open, they view, in plain sight, the stash of drugs. All on board the boat are arrested for drug possession. You think the charge is absurd since the drugs do not belong to you and neither does the boat.
Before you say anything to law enforcement, you need to call a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who will explain to you that Florida law prohibits the actual or constructive possession of drugs. You do not need to be the owner of illegal drugs or carrying them in your pocket to be charged with drug possession.
If your wallet is in your back pocket, you clearly have possession of it. The same is true if illegal drugs are in your pocket. You have possession of them. It is that simple. There are a few nuances to this scenario but they are rare. Whether or not you have constructive possession is not that simple.
In order to convict you of constructive possession of drugs, the prosecution must prove:
- You had knowledge of the presence of the substance
- You exercise control or ownership over the substance
In this example, you knew the drugs were present and that they were illegal. You showed you had dominion and control over them when you helped your friend access them.
It doesn’t matter if the owner of the boat and owner of the drugs are also charged with possession. Many people may be charged with possession of the same bag of contraband. Mere presence near the drugs is not enough, though. A friend on the boat who was sitting near the ice chest but had no knowledge it contained illegal drugs will likely not be convicted of possession.
If you have been charged with possession of illegal drugs, contact us at the Law Office of James Davis, P.A. where you will find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Jacksonville residents have come to rely on.