When the police want to charge someone with the criminal possession of a drug, it is usually simple to do so. Whatever drugs they found in someone’s possession at the time of their arrest will become part of the evidence against them in court.
When you have a half-smoked joint in with your cigarettes or someone else’s prescription medication in your purse, it is quite difficult to argue that you didn’t know about those items. However, when police find evidence of drugs in your vehicle, that could come as a real surprise.
Vehicles present a legal gray area when it comes to drug possession charges in Virginia. Can the police charge you when they find drugs in your vehicle but not directly in your possession?
Prosecutors have to prove the drugs were yours
When you have a prohibited substance in your back pocket, it is physically in your possession. When police or prosecutors claim that you knew about the drug even though it wasn’t with you physically, they seek to establish constructive possession.
In Virginia, prior court precedent has helped establish rules about constructive possession. Generally, the state needs to show that someone was aware of the drugs being in the vehicle and that they had control over them. For example, a container of prohibited drugs that is within arm’s reach of the driver’s seat and visible from within the cab is likely something the driver knew about and could control. Something in the back seat or trunk in a hidden area might be harder to connect to the driver.
Depending on where police find the substance in question and whether or not there is any evidence, like fingerprints, directly tying you to what they found, you may be in a position to defend against drug charges by refuting the claims of constructive possession.
The evidence against you determines the best defense
There is no one criminal defense strategy that ensures success in every drug offense case. Instead, the best chance for success comes from an understanding of state law and prior precedent combined with a careful review of the alleged evidence against the defendant.
Rather than pleading guilty and placing yourself at the mercy of the courts, finding a way to defend yourself rigorously against impending drug charges is likely the better solution. Learning more about the rules that apply to Virginia drug charges can help you explore the defense options potentially available in your case.