Judge Rules Proximity to Drugs Doesn’t Equal Control in Conviction Reversal
When someone is stopped by the police on suspicion of drug possession and there is a bag of drugs underneath the back seat, the person is probably going to be charged with possession. However, this doesn’t mean the charge will hold up in court. A Florida judge recently ruled that the proximity of drugs to the defendant does not necessarily equate to drug possession. For instance, someone could be driving a car and have no knowledge about the fact that a passenger in the back had illegal drugs. Perhaps the passenger exited the car or maybe the drugs were planted there. These possible scenarios were implied in the judge’s ruling that proximity doesn’t determine possession. A criminal defense attorney Miami has to offer can bring details of a case to light that can help prevent their client’s conviction.
The situation that lead to the judge’s ruling involved surveillance of a home that police suspected contained drugs. A man and a woman left the house and got into a van. The police immediately drove behind the van and the vehicle did not stop at a stop sign. The police stopped the driver and noticed he was acting strangely. The detective asked permission to search the van and found methamphetamine in two bags that were located in the back seat where a passenger had previously been sitting.
The driver was arrested and charged with trafficking in meth. The man’s lawyer requested an acquittal on the basis that his client was merely sitting close to the drugs and that this did not necessarily mean he was in actual possession of them. This first bid was not successful, and it was determined that the man’s odd behavior and the fact that the bags of drug were close to him indicated possession.
However, the man was eventually acquitted by the Second District Court of Appeals. According to Florida law, drug possession can be determined by contraband actually being in the defendant’s hand or on his person, if it is in a container in his hand or if the contraband is within easy reach and in his control. A Miami Drug Crimes Attorney can now argue that since the drugs were in the back seat and not within the easy reach of the driver, this may not determine possession. This is the line of argument that secured an acquittal for the accused in this Florida case. The appeals court did not find the proximity to be sufficient to render the drugs as under the defendant’s actual control. In addition, the odd behavior exhibited by the defendant was not enough to corroborate the notion that he was in actual possession of the drugs without other available evidence.
This case can give a Miami criminal attorney a new way of arguing that defendants are not guilty of drug possession. It is entirely possible that someone driving a car can have drugs planted in the back seat by someone else without their knowledge. Miami criminal lawyers can now argue that proximity is not enough to determine possession and control in drug cases, and this can give those brought on charges for drug possession a way to plead their case.
Stroleny Law, P.A. handles a variety of criminal law cases, so call now if you have any questions, (305) 615-1285.
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