Many times a possession case is made after a traffic stop. Be it a busted tail light or an expired tag, or even rolling through a four-way stop, there are several ways a cop can justify pulling over a vehicle. In most of the possession cases I have handled there is a carload of passengers. If the officer detects the smell of alcohol or marijuana, he will start pulling people out of the car – starting with the driver.
A lot of times he will find illegal drugs in the vehicle that nobody is willing to claim. In this instance the police will charge all of the people in the car with possession of the drugs they find. This is known as constructive possession. Constructive possession differs from actual physical possession in that the drugs are not found in any one person’s pockets. If you are holding and the cop searches you, you would be charged with actual physical possession.
Constructive possession cases are not as easy to beat as you’d think. The method of denying the drugs seldom works on its own. However, if your lawyer can prove that you should not have or could not have known about the drugs, then you’re much more likely to be found not guilty by a jury. For example, if the drugs are found under the rear seat, then you’d have a harder time arguing they didn’t belong to you, or you didn’t know about them than if the drugs were found in the trunk, and you don’t own the car. No one is expected to search a vehicle before they enter it, but the old saying holds true, “If you lie with the dogs, you’ll get fleas.” If you know that the person who’s driving is likely to have drugs in his car, your best defense is never to enter the car to begin with. If it’s too late to make that choice, then be prepared for a constructive possession charge!
It is incredibly important to be as specific as you can in giving the details of the stop to your attorney. A good lawyer is trained to spot problems with the stop and search of the car, but he can’t guess what happened. You have to tell him every detail about how the car was pulled over, as well as where the drugs were located when the officer found them.
IF you have been charged with possession after taking a ride in the wrong car at the right time, then call me immediately! You don’t have to be punished for the unwillingness of another passenger in the car to accept responsibility for their own drugs!