The police pull you over for a traffic stop or show up at your home with a search warrant. They start going through your stuff, only to produce the small package of drugs or maybe a piece of paraphernalia still covered in some kind of drug residue.
They quickly proceed to arrest you and arrange for the state to file drug possession charges against you. You may wonder how you can defend yourself against such charges, as you know that they are unfounded. You may claim that you didn’t even know that item was in your vehicle or home. Does raising a claim that it wasn’t yours ever work as part of a defense strategy?
Tennessee has specific rules about drug possession
The most straightforward drug charges involve actual possession. A police officer finds someone with drugs or paraphernalia on their person, such as in a pocket or in a backpack that someone carries. Police officers also frequently arrest people for items found in homes and vehicles using the concept of constructive possession.
For the state to charge you with a drug crime when the item was on your property but not on your person, they typically need to establish that you were aware of the item and had control over it. Proximity alone is not justification for such charges.
Depending on the situation, such as whether or not your fingerprints were present on the item and how easily the police officers located it, you could potentially challenge a claim of constructive possession and undermine the allegations that you were aware of the drugs in your vehicle or your house and, therefore, had control over them.
Possessing someone else’s drugs can still be a crime
If you are aware of an illegal drug on your property or in your vehicle although it does not belong to you, you could end up accused of actually possessing it although you just let someone else store that item there or someone hid it there without your knowledge.
Undermining claims of constructive possession is one potentially viable means of fighting back against drug charges. Other options may exist depending on the charges you face, the evidence against you and your criminal record. Discussing your pending drug charges with a legal professional can help you evaluate different potential defense strategies.