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Differentiating Between Actual And Constructive Possession


There are many forms of drug charges. Being in possession of an illegal substance is just one type. In Florida, in order to be convicted of possession of an illegal substance, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was in “actual or constructive” possession of the illegal substance. These two types of possession are different. However, being convicted of either can result in serious consequences.

So, what is the difference between “actual” and “constructive” possession of an illegal substance? Find out below.

Understanding Actual Possession

“Actual possession” of an illegal substance is quite simple to understand. This type of possession arises when the police find drugs on your person or somewhere where you can easily reach them. For instance, if the police find drugs in your hand or pocket, that is actual possession.

Understanding Constructive Possession

The “Constructive” type of possession arises in less clear-cut situations. Usually, constructive possession occurs when the police believe there are multiple people who know about and have access to drugs.

Generally, for a person to be convicted of constructive possession, the prosecution must prove that the person knew the substance was present, the person knew the substance was illegal, and the person had the ability to exercise control over the illegal substances.

Frequently, constructive possession manifests itself in cases where there is a vehicle search. For instance, if you are a passenger in a vehicle that is stopped by law enforcement officers and a search reveals contraband in the glove compartment, you could face constructive possession charges.

Constructive possession also manifests itself in cases involving shared storage space. For instance, if drugs are found in employee lockers or storage areas, a person may be charged with constructive possession even if they are not near the locker, storage areas, or even the property. You could also face constructive possession charges if you are at a friend’s house when a search reveals drugs.

Fighting Drug Possession Charges

It is possible to fight both actual possession charges and constructive possession charges. However, because of how complicated it can be to prove constructive possession, it is often easier to fight constructive possession charges.

There are many ways for an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight drug possession charges. For example, a qualified attorney can assert a constitutional defense. Many times, police officers perform searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. If an attorney finds that the police conducted an illegal search, they could work towards having the entire case dismissed. There are also many arguments that can be made refuting an individual’s potential knowledge of an illegal substance in a given location. Regarding constructive possession, a skilled attorney can “poke holes” in the prosecution’s case when they cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant knew the contraband was there, and/or the illegal nature of it, as well as if they had actual control over the location where the substance was found by police.

Contact a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney

If you are ever arrested for actual or constructive possession of an illegal substance, it is crucial that you keep in mind there are ways to fight your charges. Just because you are arrested and charged doesn’t mean you must end up in jail. So, whether you are charged with actual or constructive possession of an illegal substance, ensure you reach out to a criminal defense attorney for legal help. An experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney at Joyce A. Julian, P.A., can help you when faced with drug possession charges.


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