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How prosecutors work to prove constructive possession of drugs

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Drug Charges |

Many Virginia drug possession charges are simple and straightforward. The person accused of breaking the law gets arrested after police officers find drugs in their pockets or purses. However, police officers often find drugs not on a person but rather near them. They might find drugs tucked under a seat in a motor vehicle or hidden somewhere in a residential space where there are multiple people present.

Prosecutors may then attempt to pursue constructive possession charges against one or all of the people present at the time of the search or with a relationship to the property searched. How do prosecutors work to establish constructive possession in a drug case?

There are two components to constructive possession

Generally speaking, Virginia prosecutors need to convince the courts of two key details to successfully convict someone of an offense involving constructive possession of drugs. The first is that the person accused must have been aware of the drugs. The second is that they must have had a degree of control over them. If prosecutors cannot meet those two criteria, then the courts may dismiss the charges or a jury may acquit someone accused of a drug possession offense.

How does the state choose who to charge?

Constructive possession charges may arise in scenarios where there are multiple people present and all of them deny having knowledge of the drugs that police officers find. The state might pursue charges against someone because of their prior criminal record if someone present has a history of drug violations.

An individual’s proximity to the drugs could also be a consideration in some cases. Other times, the state brings charges against the person renting a property or the owner of a home. Someone driving a vehicle could also be the party blamed even though their passengers may have been the ones to possess those drugs, or the owner of the car could be the person accused.

Anyone who is accused of a constructive possession drug charge in Virginia may have several options for defending against those allegations. Learning more about the laws and prior court rulings that apply to Virginia drug cases may benefit those facing charges. Defendants who fight back can potentially avoid jail time and other penalties that could change their lives for years to come.