January 6, 2017
In a drug possession case in Florida, the State is required to prove that you were either in actual possession or constructive possession of an illegal drug. The burden of proof for the prosecutor is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Thus, a prosecutor or state’s attorney must prove his or her case beyond a doubt based upon ordinary reason and common sense.
It should also be noted that mere ownership of an illegal substance has no correlation as to whether or not a defendant was in possession of the illegal substance. Ownership and possession are two very different things under the law.
Actual possession simply means that you possessed the drugs somewhere on your person. A classic example is if the drug was found in a coat pocket, in your hand, or in your mouth.
In order to prove constructive possession, the State must prove both of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You knew of the presence of the drug
- You were in a position to be able to exercise control over the drug
The case of Culver v. State of Florida directly addresses the second element of this test.
Neither of these elements, alone, is sufficient to prove constructive possession, and if a prosecutor or state’s attorney can only prove one element, he or she has not met the required burden of proof.
One common defense that is often applicable in drug possession cases arises when an initial traffic stop is deemed illegal, due to a lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause. For example, if a police officer lacks reasonable suspicion in pulling a vehicle over in the first place, any drugs found in the vehicle may be suppressed.
Call an Experienced St. Petersburg Drug Defense Lawyer for Assistance
An experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney at Khonsari Law Group can analyze all of the facts and circumstances of your individual case and can help you to determine whether any defenses are applicable. You should feel free to contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at any time, via telephone at 727-269-5300 or email, for an initial consultation.