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Can I Be Arrested for Drugs That Aren’t Mine? 

Law Office of Joseph M Pacella Oct. 20, 2022

man arrested for drug possessionThere is no greater injustice than being arrested for something you did not do. That is why you may feel shocked and devastated when you get arrested for possession of illegal drugs that weren’t yours.  

As a criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Joseph M Pacella, I will fight for your rights and help you pursue the best possible outcome in your case. From my office in Springfield, Massachusetts, I represent clients facing drug possession and other charges throughout Central and Western Massachusetts.  

What Does ‘Constructive Possession’ Mean?  

When it comes to understanding why people can be arrested for drugs that weren’t theirs, you need to understand the legal theory called “constructive possession” and how it applies to drug cases.   

In cases involving possession of drugs, there can be either actual or constructive possession. Actual possession refers to a situation when drugs are found on the defendant’s person (in their hands, pockets, or bag). Constructive possession, on the other hand, is more complicated.  

Constructive possession refers to situations where the police find drugs not in the defendant’s direct physical control but in a location the defendant has dominion and control over. Common examples of when constructive possession may be applicable include:  

  1. The police find drugs anywhere in your vehicle (the passenger’s seat, the backseat, the glove compartment, etc.) 

  1. The police find drugs in someone else’s house while you are staying with that person.  

Regardless of whether you are facing drug possession charges based on actual or constructive possession, talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. As a skilled drug crimes attorney at Law Office of Joseph M Pacella, I can help you build a strong defense strategy and do whatever it takes to prove that the drugs weren’t yours.  

Proving Your Innocence When the Drugs Aren’t Yours 

When facing charges for drug possession, it may be a natural reaction to attempt to assert your innocence to law enforcement. However, if the arresting police officer had a dollar for every time they heard the phrase, “The drugs weren’t mine,” they would be a millionaire.  

While “the drugs weren’t mine” is the most common excuse police officers hear when arresting people for drug possession, it does not mean that no one who is arrested for drug possession is innocent. If you were arrested for drugs that weren’t yours, hire a skilled attorney to help you get the charges dismissed and avoid a conviction.  

The ‘Know or Should Have Known’ Standard 

As you know by now, you can be arrested for drugs that were not found on your person under the theory of constructive possession. However, there are specific elements that the prosecution must establish to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  • You knew or should have known about the controlled substance or drugs in the house or vehicle;  

  • You knew or should have known that the drugs were illegal; and 

  • You had dominion and control over the drug. 

If you were arrested for drugs that weren’t yours, your attorney could help prove your innocence to avoid a drug possession conviction by highlighting the weaknesses and holes in the prosecution’s case.  

Incriminating Circumstances in Drug Cases 

Proving your innocence in a drug possession case can become more complicated when there are incriminating circumstances. The incriminating circumstances that may lead to a conviction, even if you claim that the drugs weren’t yours, include: 

  • The drugs were in plain view 

  • You had control/ownership over the place where the drugs were found 

  • The drugs were with your personal items 

  • You were the only person in the house or vehicle at the time of the arrest 

  • You were impaired by the particular drug at the time of the arrest 

The existence of any of these incriminating circumstances does not automatically prove your guilt. However, they could make it more difficult to assert your innocence and prove that the drugs did not belong to you.  

The Reliable Representation You Need 

If you were arrested for drugs that weren’t yours, I understand what you are going through. If you are facing criminal charges for possession of drugs that didn’t belong to you, contact an attorney before you say anything to the police. At Law Office of Joseph M Pacella, I am prepared to investigate your case and develop an effective defense for you. Contact my office in Springfield, Massachusetts, to discuss your case.