How Does the Prosecution Prove I Was in Possession of an Illegal Drug?

After being arrested for possession of an illegal drug, the state prosecution must bring forward evidence that shows you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. One major element of a drug possession case, is showing how the accused was knowingly and intentionally in possession of the drugs. Illegal possession happens when a person is in control of a drug without legal permission or justification. Some prescription medications are categorized as controlled substances, and a person can get arrested for being in possession if they do not have the proper paperwork. 

Based on state laws for where that person resides, there are multiple possibilities as to what kind of penalties a person may face due to a drug possession conviction. Factors that can determine the severity of the consequence include the amount of drug, drug type, circumstances of the arrest, aggravating circumstances, and criminal history. 

During your legal consultation with a drug lawyer in San Francisco, CA, he or she can talk you through what it means to have been found in illegal possession of a drug (as it is much more complicated than simply an officer seeing it on or with you). 

Here are the elements of a drug possession charge that the prosecution must prove in order to deem you guilty of the crime: 

#1 Being in Knowing

The accused must have been intentionally and knowingly in control of the illegal drug. Prosecutors must show that the accused was aware that the drugs were there and had intended to control and/or use them. The prosecution will attempt to do so not necessarily through statements from the accused or actual evidence. Instead, they may suggest that the person was in knowing possession based on the circumstances of the arrest. The prosecution must bring forward facts of the arrest in such a way, that the judge can make a reasonable inference that the accused was both in knowing and intentional. 

#2 Being in Possession

Possession in legal terms means that the accused had physical and personal control over the illicit substance. The court may deem that the accused had either constructive or actual possession of the drug. For example, the prosecution can show that the accused had the drugs in his or her glove compartment, hidden in a drawer at home, or on themselves. In constructive possession, this means the accused didn’t have literal physical possession of the drug, but had known it was there and had the ability to maintain dominion over it. 

#3 Being in Shared Possession

The prosecution may try to prove that the accused had partial control over the drug. For instance, two people living together could be deemed in shared possession because they are in the same home together. But, the prosecution must go further than just stating two people were under the same roof. The prosecution has to show how each person had control over the illegal drugs or repeat incriminating statements they made. 

Thanks to the Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal charges and the prosecution’s strategies.