Jacksonville Constructive Possession of a Controlled Substance in a Jointly-Occupied Vehicle

As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer, I have handled numerous possession of a controlled substances cases.  Arrests for possession of a controlled substance, such as marijuana or cocaine, occur every day in Jacksonville, Florida.  A person can be in actual or constructive possession of cocaine.  Actual possession occurs when the drug is physically “on” or extremely close to the person.  Constructive possession occurs when the drug is in a location where the person concealed it or has control over it.  

In Jacksonville, in order for a criminal defendant to be convicted of constructive possession, the prosecutor must show the defendant had 
  1. knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance and 
  2. the ability to exercise dominion and control over it.  

Jacksonville constructive possession is difficult to do if the defendant is in a car occupied by more than one person.  In fact, in a recent Florida case, Brown v. State, 34 Fla. L. Weekly D773a (Fla. 4th DCA 2009), ruled that the State of Florida did not prove that the driver of a vehicle was in constructive possession of Xanax which was located in the center console of the vehicle.  The driver and a passenger were in the vehicle, and either one of them could have been in possession of this drug.  The court ruled this way, because the prosecutor failed to present sufficient, independent evidence that the defendant knew about the presence of the Xanax and had the ability to control it.  

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