Using or having possession of cocaine is a federal crime that caries heavy penalties. Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is broadly defined by The Controlled Substances Act to encompass substances that are derived or extracted from coca leaves. The word “possession” can mean different things in the eyes of the law. In this blog, we explain a few of these key differences.
You may be charged with possession if you knowingly have cocaine on you or in your physical control. This means you have the drug in your pocket or purse. To “knowingly” possess cocaine, you must be aware you have the drug and that it is illegal. This is the simplest and most commonly known form of possession.
This type of possession charge is used in situations where the law interprets you to have legal control over a drug. In this sense, the word “constructive” means implied, inferred, or as interpreted by the law. The criteria for this type of possession charge is especially broad and can cover any number of circumstances. You can be charged with constructive possession of cocaine if the drug is found in:
- Your home, vehicle, business, or other property you own;
- A hotel room you rent or are a guest in;
- A social club or warehouse that you frequently visit or use; or
- A mailbox/ parcel address you sometimes use.
To convict someone of constructive possession, prosecutors have to prove the suspect had the power and intent to control the substance and knowledge that the substance was cocaine. Sometimes showing close ties or associations to other individuals who possess cocaine can be used to establish a constructive possession charge.
DEFENDING AGAINST A COCAINE POSSESSION CHARGE
One of the most common strategies an attorney will implement is challenging the defendant’s knowledgeable possession of the discovered cocaine. For example, imagine that the defendant’s roommate is a casual drug user. When cocaine residue is found in the defendant’s purse, her attorney could argue that it belongs to the roommate instead of the defendant and found its way inside the purse incidentally.
Another common defense is challenging law enforcement’s initial search and seizure. Illicit drugs found in “plain view” (on a car’s dashboard after a legal traffic stop, for example) may be seized and used as evidence. But if the initial traffic stop is found to be illegal, any cocaine found during the ensuing search cannot be entered into evidence.
Sometimes police will plant drugs or induce a suspect to commit a crime. While these situations are rare, they aren’t unheard of, and a defense attorney will do everything in his or her power to bring the truth to light.
If you have been arrested for cocaine possession, you are undoubtedly concerned about the outcome of your case. Cocaine possession is a serious crime that can dramatically impact your future. At Berry Law, we have 100+ years of combined legal experience and we are prepared to defend your rights today.
Contact our Nebraska team of drug crimes lawyers to find out how we can help with your case today.