Drug possession, or “narcotics” possession, is outlined in Florida Statute 893.13. Judges and lawyers can also commonly refer to it as possession of a “controlled substance.” Drug possession can include a simple misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the type of controlled substance the police find and how much they find. Drug possession is not “drug ownership.” In other words, the State does not have to prove that you were the one who purchased the drugs, or that you acquired the drugs for your own personal use. Simply being in possession of an illegal drug, whether or not it belongs to you, can result in an arrest.What is “Possession”?
To better explain what “possession” means as it relates to drugs and narcotics, it would be helpful for you to understand that there are two types of possession in the State of Florida. The first is called “actual” possession, and the second is called “constructive” possession.
Actual Possession means that the person who is in possession of the drugs is aware of the presence of the drugs, meaning that they know that the drugs are in the location where the officer finds the substance. The Florida Jury Instruction further describe actual possession as:
- the substance/drugs are in the hand of or on the person; or
- the substance/drugs are in a container in the hand of or on the person; or
- the substance is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.
Some common examples of “actual possession” that Attorney Thompson has encountered would be when an officer finds drugs in a person’s pants pocket, in someone’s purse or backpack that they are currently holding, in a baggie in the cup holder of someone’s car, or in a joint or bowl that someone is caught smoking.
Constructive Possession means that the person charged with drug possession is aware of the substance/drugs, the substance/drugs are in a place over which the person has control, and the person has the ability to control the substance.
A common example of constructive possession that Attorney Thompson has encountered are when the police find drugs in a bag belonging to someone that is contained inside their car, or sitting near the person at the time he or she is arrested.
In addition to proving that a defendant was in possession of illegal drugs, the State is required to prove that the substance you possessed was, in fact, an illegal substance. The State is no longer required to send marijuana or cannabis for testing by an expert. The police are often times able to testify that they know it is cannabis based on the look and smell of the substance. If you are found in possession of cocaine, methamphetamines, opioids, or other prescription drugs, the State may be required to send the narcotics to an expert who will test the substance. At Thompson Law, Attorney Matt Thompson will be working your case during the time the State is using to test the drugs.
In most drug possession cases, the drugs are found as a result of a police search. Each and every search must be constitutional, and cannot violate someone’s constitutional rights. Attorney Thompson has had the pleasure of litigating drug possession cases throughout his entire career. Attorney Thompson is keenly aware of every person’s constitutional rights and he fights tirelessly to ensure that those rights are protected. Just because someone looks suspicious, or is found in an area considered to be a high drug area, does not mean that the police can simply search someone at will. The police must justify their encounter with every person, they must justify a right to search, and they must prove that the person was in possession of the drugs when they were found. If you find yourself wondering whether the police violated your constitutional rights during a search, contact Thompson Law and schedule a free consultation with Attorney Matt Thompson by calling (386) 463-4LAW (4529) or toll free by calling (877) 934-4LAW (4529).Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Coupled with possession of drugs is often a charge for possession of drug paraphernalia. In most cases, when someone is caught with drugs, they are using the drugs, getting ready to use the drugs, or just got done using drugs. And in those cases, the device that was used to inject, ingest, or introduce the drugs into the human body is sitting somewhere nearby.
Just like possession of drugs, the State is required to prove that you knew of the presence of the drug paraphernalia, and the same rules apply for actual and constructive possession. Many common items used to ingest illegal drugs also have common legal uses as well, such a syringes, pipes, or rolling paper. The State has the burden to show that those common and legal devices were used to ingest illegal narcotics. The State does this by testing the inside of the items to see if there is any residue left over from drug use. The State will also try to prove the proximity, or closeness, of the drug paraphernalia to the actual drugs.
Possession of drug paraphernalia for personal use is a misdemeanor in the first degree, and it punishable by up to a year in jail. Just like possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia is often the result of a search of your person, your vehicle, or your home. Each of those places requires that the police justify the probable cause to search. If you have any questions about your case, or whether your rights were infringed upon, please set up a free consultation with Attorney Matt Thompson by calling (386) 463-4LAW (4529) or toll free by calling (877) 934-4LAW (4529).Pretrial Diversion
In DeLand, the State offers a pretrial diversion program to first time drug offenders as a means of resolving the case without convicting you of a crime. A pretrial diversion is an agreement between the accused person and the State where the accused agrees to take and complete classes, remain drug free, and offer urinalysis testing, in exchange for a full dismissal of the charges.
Most counties offer similar programs to the program found in DeLand. While many states are decriminalizing possession of some narcotics, Florida remains in the majority of states where possession of any drug is still a crime. You may not agree with this philosophically, but you must abide by Florida’s laws when you are in the State of Florida. A pretrial diversion is often times an excellent way to resolve your case and can save your record for future school and job applications. Thompson Law is aware that many first time offenders are given this opportunity by the State, regardless of whether you choose to hire an attorney. If the State offers you a pretrial diversion, it does not excuse the police from violating your constitutional rights. If you need further information as to whether you are eligible for a pretrial diversion, please set up a free consultation with Attorney Matt Thompson by calling (386) 463-4LAW (4529) or toll free by calling (877) 934-4LAW (4529).The Thompson Law Approach
The drug epidemic in Florida has become a crisis. Throughout his career, Attorney Thompson has dealt with drug cases and arrests and has encountered many situations that can be helpful in defending your case. In addition to defending your case, Attorney Thompson can recommend certain avenues for treatment should the client feel that their drug use has become an addiction. While working as a prosecutor in DeLand, Attorney Matt Thompson was assigned to the Drug Court Program and has recommended drug court as an alternate resolution in some of his client’s cases.
Attorney Thompson knows that each case and each client is different, and there will never be a situation where you will be coupled with another case. Attorney Thompson takes the time to learn about you as an individual before deciding how to defend your case. Attorney Thompson limits the number of cases he takes to ensure that each client receives the personal attention they deserve. Take the time to let Attorney Thompson get to know the person you are by setting up a free consultation with Thompson Law by calling (386) 463-4LAW (4529) or toll free by calling (877) 934-4LAW (4529).