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What does constructive possession mean in a Georgia drug case?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2023 | Drug Crimes

Drug possession charges often involve someone who is found to have prohibited substances in their pockets or in a bag that they carry. Someone in actual possession of prohibited or controlled substances may end up prosecuted by the state. Drug possession charges can lead to a variety of penalties depending on the type of substance and the amount of drugs that police officers find.

Yet, sometimes, police officers arrest someone for drugs that are not physically in their possession but are simply near them at the time of their arrest. Such scenarios involve claims of constructive possession that a Georgia prosecutor will have to prove to secure a conviction at a criminal trial.

Constructive possession involves specific factors

For the courts to hold someone legally accountable for the illegal possession of drugs, the situation would typically need to meet two specific standards. The first is that the person accused needs to have been aware of the drugs and the second is that they must have had control over them.

For example, if police officers find drugs in someone’s vehicle, it is reasonable for them to claim that the driver or vehicle owner would likely have been aware of their presence in the vehicle. It would also be reasonable to claim that the person operating the vehicle or the owner of the vehicle would ultimately have control over what happens to those drugs.

Thankfully, those accused of constructive possession often have ways to defend themselves. Their defense attorney might point to forensic testing that shows they did not leave fingerprints or any other physical evidence on the drugs. They might also be able to provide an alternative theory related to specific passengers or a prior owner of the vehicle who may have placed those drugs there.

For those facing charges for drugs that they were unaware of in their vehicles or their living spaces, undermining claims of constructive possession can be a good starting point for their defense strategy. The best defense for a drug charge will largely depend on the circumstances of someone’s arrest and the state’s evidence. Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and learning more about how Georgia manages criminal cases involving drugs may benefit those facing prosecution.