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Tampa Family Lawyer > Blog > Criminal > What Is Actual Vs. Constructive Possession?

What Is Actual Vs. Constructive Possession?


If you are facing charges for possession of an illegal substance in Florida, you may be wondering how best to defend yourself. When it comes to possession, you may feel like you have been convicted the moment that you were charged. However, a lot can happen between the time you are charged and convicted, and the outcome often depends on what actions you are willing to take. Being proactive in learning about the charges against you and hiring experienced counsel can make all the difference when it comes to trial. The good news is that in many cases it is possible to successfully defend yourself against possession charges, and it is also often possible to get these charges dropped or reduced.

Understanding Actual and Constructive Possession

The best way to defend yourself against possession charges always depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. However, a primary element in determining what defense to use is whether you are being charged with actual or constructive possession. Actual possession occurs when you are caught essentially “red handed” with the illegal substance. For instance, if you are found holding or carrying drugs, with them on your person, or clearly in your possession. Actual possession also applies if you confess that the drugs are yours or otherwise acknowledge possession. Constructive possession, on the other hand, occurs when you are found in the presence of or near drugs. For example, if your home is searched and drugs are found in a common area, or if you are in a car with 4 people and drugs are found in the trunk or center console. In many cases, police will simply charge everyone in the car or who lives at the residence with possession, expecting that whoever did not actually possess them will tell them who did so that they can get the charges dropped. As you can imagine, defending against constructive possession charges is much easier to do. In most cases, the best defense to a constructive possession charge is creating doubt about the accuracy of the charges by demonstrating that someone else actually owned the drugs and that you did not have knowledge of them. Even if you are not willing to provide the identity of the person who owned the drugs, if you can prove that it was not you, you should be able to avoid conviction or secure a deal. You also have an advantage in that prosecutors don’t often like to bring these cases to trial because the outcome is so uncertain, so they will often offer you a deal so that they can avoid a costly and time consuming trial that they might lose. If you are charged with actual possession you can still try to prove that you did not have knowledge of the drugs that were found in your possession. Maybe you bought the coat at a thrift store or borrowed it from a friend or grabbed the wrong one when you were leaving a party, having no idea that there were drugs in the pocket. You may also have defenses available if you did not consent to the search and the police lacked a warrant or probable cause.

Schedule a Consultation with the Faulkner Law Group Today 

If you are facing possession charges in Florida, it’s critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the Tampa criminal lawyers at the Faulkner Law Group today so that they can start working on the best possible outcome in your case.



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