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Understanding Drug "Possession"

It is often the case that someone is charged with drug possession even when no controlled substances were found on their person. This is because the state of Virginia recognizes two types of possession: actual and constructive. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, the kind of possession cited by law enforcement may dictate your defense options.

Actual vs. Constructive

Virginia statutes allow law enforcement and prosecutors to recognize different forms of possession when charging drug possession. Both of these forms largely coincide with how we define "possession" of items in our everyday lives.

The two different types of possession include:

  • Actual possession. When a controlled substance is found on a suspect's actual person, it is considered actual possession. This means that the drugs were found in a person's pocket, in a bag they were carrying, in their hand, or hidden elsewhere on their body.
  • Constructive possession. When a controlled substance is found in a place where it can be reasonably assumed the suspect had access and control over it, it is considered constructive possession. Examples of constructive possession include finding drugs in a suspect's car or hidden in their home.

Challenging Possession Allegations

Challenging possession charges largely depends on the circumstances of the arrest. Clearly, if officers find someone with drugs in their pocket, it is more indicative of guilt to a judge and jury than someone who has drugs found on their desk at work. The desk scenario allows for more reasonable doubt than the pocket scenario.

However, both of these types of possession are still subject to probable cause considerations. The Fourth Amendment protects us all from unreasonable searches of both our bodies and property. Even if illegal substances are found, your Constitutional rights absolutely take precedence over any criminal charges.

If you have been charged with drug possession, then the time to start exploring your legal options is now. James A. Bullard Jr. P.C. is a former prosecutor who is well-versed in the challenges and disadvantages the accused face before our criminal justice system. Time and time again, he has leveled the playing field and ensured that his clients receive every consideration they deserve before the law.

Trust your case to a skilled Richmond criminal defense attorney capable of producing results. Contact us today to explore your defense options.