What's required to prove a drug possession charge?

Imagine you were enjoying some time riding in the car of a friend, who you didn't realize was in possession of marijuana under the passenger seat of his vehicle. As it happens, the police pull your friend over for speeding and decided to search the vehicle. That's when they found marijuana under your seat which they suspected was yours, and now you're facing marijuana possession charges in criminal court.

Whether it relates to a bottle of pills that aren't properly labeled with your name and prescription, a small stash of marijuana or a smaller amount of cocaine, a drug possession charge is a serious criminal allegation. Therefore, if you've been accused of a crime like this, you'll want to understand a little bit more about these charges to ascertain whether a conviction is likely in your case.

What's required to prove a drug possession charge?

Like any criminal allegation, prosecutors need to prove that you committed it "beyond a reasonable doubt." Barring the ability to meet this burden of proof, the court cannot issue a guilty verdict in your case and you will not face any punishments related to your charges. In terms of what the prosecution needs to prove for a drug possession charge, these are the primary elements:

  • You were aware that the substance that you allegedly possessed was a controlled or illicit substance.
  • You were knowingly in possession of the controlled or illicit substance, and/or you were knowingly in control of the substance.

As far as "being in control of the substance," this means that, even if it was not physically on your person, you were keeping it in a place -- like a storage locker, apartment or vehicle -- where you had access and complete control over it.

Do you need a strategically planned drug possession defense?

If the prosecution has strong evidence to support their drug possession allegations against you, there's a chance that a conviction is likely. However, even if the evidence is strong, you can still formulate a strategic drug possession defense to try and improve your situation. A drug possession defendant who successfully navigates his or her criminal proceedings might gain a verdict of not guilty, or reduce the severity of punishments in the event of a conviction.

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