You’ve been pulled over. The next thing you know, the police are searching your car, and you get a sinking feeling in your stomach as they pull out a suspicious-looking bag. If you’re panicking at this point, you’re right to do so. Florida law comes down hard on those in possession of controlled substances, and this moment could affect the rest of your life. It’s crucial to know your rights and know what to do to protect your future.
Have you been arrested on drug charges, and you’re not sure what to do next? We’re here to help. Call the team at Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 to set up a consultation.
Differences Between Actual Possession and Constructive Possession
When drugs are found in your vehicle, the strength of the case against you may come down to actual or constructive possession. Actual possession means that the illegal substance is literally and physically in your possession. If they find it in your pocket, that is actual possession.
However, many car searches lead to physical substances that are in constructive possession. This means that the suspect knows where the substance is, and the substance is in their control. Your vehicle is within your dominion, so it is expected that you know what’s in it.
Actual possession may create a stronger case that constructive possession. If you have illegal substances in your pocket, the likelihood of you not knowing they were there is slim to none. If they are in a car you’re driving; it gets more complicated. What if you share the car with friends or family members? What if the vehicle is a rental? What if you are driving a friend’s car? These all introduce doubt.
What if the Drugs Aren’t Mine?
Unfortunately, this is one of the most common responses police get when they find controlled substances in someone’s vehicle. Everyone’s first response is to claim that they belong to someone else or that they didn’t know they were there. Unfortunately, even if this is true for you, it is unlikely to help you. Investigators have heard this so many times that they automatically assume it to be a lie. If the substances found are indeed not yours, you will need to go through the legal process to prove your innocence.
How to Protect Your Rights
As soon as drugs are found in your vehicle, it would help if you immediately thought ahead to your next steps. This is a dire situation. First, cooperate with the officers. Do not resist arrest or try to argue your way out of an arrest. Second, do not answer any questions. Remember that anything you say can and will be used against you. Before you answer any questions, you need to ask for your attorney and wait for them to arrive. Answer questions with their guidance and follow their advice.
They will look into different defense options for you. Perhaps the initial traffic stop or search was not lawful. Remember, police need probable cause to search your vehicle. If they did not have probable cause, any evidence gathered during the search could be excluded from your case.
The outcome of this could change your life, so do not wait to hire legal representation. Otherwise, you face incarceration, fines, loss of work opportunities, and loss of social status.
Turn to Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. for the Assistance You Need
At Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., we fight to protect our clients’ civil rights and ensure that they are not mistreated in the criminal justice system. If you have been arrested on drug charges, turn to us for the aggressive representation you need.View All Blogs