Drug possession charges are the lowest-level drug offenses possible in Georgia. However, they can still trigger numerous consequences. As a result, someone with a controlled substance violation on their record may lose out on certain opportunities in the future.
A simple possession offense could lead to jail time, fines or probation depending on the circumstances and the disposition of the judge hearing the case. Some possession charges are very simple for the prosecutor to pursue. Police officers find drugs in someone’s pockets or in their immediate possession, eliminating any question about who owned the drugs and who should therefore face criminal charges.
Police officers may sometimes find drugs in a vehicle, a work environment or a residence. At that point, there may be questions about who is criminally culpable. Constructive possession is how the state brings charges when drugs are found in the environment, not on a person.
What constitutes constructive possession?
For prosecutors to bring drug possession charges against someone based on a belief of constructive possession, the situation typically needs to meet two standards. First, there must be reason to believe that the defendant knew that the drugs were there. The second is that they controlled what happened to the drugs.
In scenarios where everyone present at the time of a search denies ownership of the drugs that police officers find, the state may pursue charges by trying to show that someone had constructive possession of the drugs. Constructive possession charges in a vehicle often fall to the owner or the person driving, for example, as the state could potentially convince the courts that the person who owned the vehicle should be the one most likely to hide items in the vehicle and be able to access them later.
Occasionally, multiple people with access to and control over the drugs could face the same charges if the state cannot determine who actually had control over the drugs.
How people can fight back
There are many different strategies that may work for those accused of constructive possession. They could potentially develop a defense strategy that identifies someone else as the owner of the drugs. A compelling claim that someone else was to blame could be the reasonable doubt necessary for someone to avoid a conviction during their Georgia drug trial.
Other times, a review of forensic evidence might help the defendant. There may not be any fingerprints or genetic materials on the drugs or their packaging that conclusively connect them to the drugs. Even the location where police officers found the drugs could play a role in someone’s defense strategy. The more unusual and hard-to-access the location was, the more likely it is that someone could own a vehicle or live in a rental space and never discover the hidden items there.
Reviewing the evidence that the state has with the assistance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer can be a good starting point for those hoping to defend against Georgia drug charges.