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Can the police arrest someone for drugs found in their vehicle?

On Behalf of | May 18, 2023 | Drug Charges |

Some drug arrests are the result of a defendant’s direct encounter with the police. Someone talks to an officer on the sidewalk and then gets caught with prescription drugs or banned substances in their pockets. These people will likely face accusations of tangible possession of a drug.

Other times, an individual isn’t actually in direct possession of the drug, but police still accuse them of breaking the law. Constructive possession is the legal term used in New York and elsewhere to describe a scenario in which officers did not find drugs on someone’s person but still intend to charge them with a crime related to those drugs.

Will, for example, the state have a strong case against someone if the police find drugs under their seat or in the trunk of their vehicle?

The details matter in a constructive possession case

There are many variables that will influence the outcome of a drug case involving claims of constructive possession. Generally, the prosecution will need to establish that someone was aware of the drugs and therefore that they had control over those substances. If someone was able to use or dispose of the drugs, they had constructive possession of them even if they belong to someone else.

The location of the drugs, the history of the vehicle and the other people involved can all influence the strength of a prosecutor’s claim of constructive possession. If there were people in the vehicle beyond the driver and officers found the drugs in the back seat by the passengers, there may be more questions as to who actually owned and had control over those drugs. If officers find the drug hidden somewhere in the vehicle, such as in a secret compartment built into one of the doors, there is always the possibility that the current owner wasn’t aware that the compartment or its contents existed.

The best response to a drug charge based on construction constructive possession will be different depending on numerous unique details relevant to someone’s circumstances. Even the driver’s prior criminal record can influence the best response to their pending charges. Seeking legal guidance to better understand the rules that govern New York drug charges can help those who are facing charges of illegally possessing or transporting certain substances.