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When police find drugs in a vehicle with several people inside

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Massachusetts criminal statutes allow for the prosecution of anyone found to be illegally in possession of a drug. Possessing certain substances, like methamphetamine, is always illegal. Even prescription medications can lead to possession charges if someone doesn’t have a valid prescription from a licensed physician.

Establishing who had possession of a drug is often simple. Police officers find a substance in someone’s pockets, and there is little question about who those items belong to and who has control over them. Other times, police officers might find drugs in a space where there are multiple people present. Drugs found at a party or in a vehicle but not on a person are perfect examples of this scenario.

Frequently, police officers inquire about the origins of the substances they find and try to discern who they belong to. If everyone present insists that they don’t know who the drugs belong to, what happens then?

The state may try to prove constructive possession

Bringing charges against an individual is a straightforward process when police officers find drugs in their immediate physical possession. Prosecution becomes a bit more complex when there is a degree of separation between the individual and the drugs. Police officers try to determine who should have been aware of the presence of the drugs and who likely had control over them.

If everyone in the vehicle denies being the owner of the drugs found by police officers, the state looks at many factors. The location of the substances found, the histories of the parties present and even physical evidence, like fingerprints, can influence who the state accuses of possessing those drugs.

Oftentimes, the driver of the vehicle or the person closest to the location where officers found the drugs might be the party that faces charges. In a constructive possession drug case, the state must establish not only that there were drugs present but also that someone knew they were there and had control over what happened with them.

There are, therefore, several potential opportunities to defend against constructive possession allegations depending on the circumstances. Someone hoping to avoid a conviction will need to review the evidence carefully and discuss their case with a defense attorney. Ultimately, understanding what happens when police officers find drugs that don’t necessarily belong to one person can help people fight pending drug charges.

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