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Can the state charge someone if drugs are found in their home or car?

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2023 | Drug Crimes

The state of Virginia regulates drugs of all types. There are rules in place that concern the use and distribution of prescription drugs and numerous laws against the possession and distribution of prohibited substances as well.

Those accused of a drug violation may face possession charges because police officers have found drugs in their physical possession. Sometimes, an individual is charged because they have drugs in their pocket or their purse, which can lead to a straightforward claim of actual physical possession. However, sometimes police officers decide to arrest individuals not because of substances found on their person but because of what they’ve found in their vehicle or home.

Prosecutors can develop a claim of constructive possession

For the state to successfully pursue drug possession charges, they will need to establish that an individual had either actual or constructive possession of those drugs. The term constructive possession refers to a scenario in which the state can reasonably assume that someone was aware of the presence of certain drugs and had direct control over what happened to them.

It may be possible to fight charges by undermining the assertion that someone knew about or had authority over the drugs that police officers found. For example, perhaps someone has multiple roommates, meaning that the drugs found in the common area of their rental home might belong to any of those individuals. A recent party or a guest with a criminal history could also provide someone with grounds to challenge claims that the drugs police found were theirs.

There are options for those arrested because of drugs in their vehicle as well. Perhaps someone purchased a used vehicle or moonlights as a rideshare driver. Even friends who asked for a ride may have been responsible for leaving something behind in the vehicle that the driver was unaware of when they encountered the police.

Details including whether or not there are fingerprints or other traces of physical evidence connecting someone to the drugs in question will help to determine a defense strategy that could potentially work in a case involving claims of constructive possession. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about the basic rules that govern Virginia drug charges can help people more effectively respond to criminal allegations.


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