What does it mean to ‘possess’ drugs? Can you be arrested if police find drugs in your shared apartment? If drugs are found in car who gets charged with the crime? These are complicated questions. Though, as a general rule, if a police officer believes that the drugs are yours, you are going to get arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. You can be arrested for drug possession even if officers never actually found drugs “on your person”.
If a Colorado police officer found drugs that were not actually yours, it is imperative that you take immediate action to protect your legal rights. Your freedom could be at stake. Here, our experienced Jefferson County drug possession defense attorney explains what you need to do if you are arrested for drugs that are not actually yours.
You Could Be Arrested — Know How to Protect Yourself
If the police find illegal drugs, they are probably going to arrest somebody. The defense “but those drugs are not mine!’ — even though it may be true — is unlikely to have much effect. As you may suspect, law enforcement officers hear that type of line all of the time. They generally just ignore it. Of course, an arrest does not mean a conviction. Not all arrests for drug possession charges are legitimate. Officers are often overly aggressive when arresting people in drug-related cases. If you have been arrested on false drug possession charges, do not make any further statements to the police. Contact a defense lawyer immediately.
Understanding Drug Possession Charges: Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession
Under Colorado law, it is illegal for a person to knowingly possess a controlled substance (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-18-403.5). There are two types of drug possession: actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession occurs when police find drugs on your person. For example, if an officer finds cocaine in your pocket, you will likely be arrested on cocaine possession charges. In that circumstance, it is going to be difficult to argue that those drugs are “not yours”. Prosecutors won’t care if you were just holding the drugs for someone else. Knowledge matters, not who was going to use the drug. You need a lawyer.
Constructive possession cases are much more complex. This type of possession occurs when drugs are discovered, but they are not actually on a person. Generally, this means the drugs are discovered in a person’s house or in their vehicle. In these circumstances, prosecutors must be able to prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the presence of the drugs. In addition, prosecutors must prove that they had the ability to exert control over the controlled substances. If the state cannot prove the required elements of constructive possession, then those drug possession charges should be dismissed.
Drug Possession Charges: Three Mistakes You Must Avoid
- Do Not Take ‘Blame’ for the Drugs
It is important to remember that police officers are investigators. When arresting someone, they are tasked with obtaining evidence to build a case against that person. In criminal cases, a confession — even if it is only a partial confession — can be a compelling form of evidence. Expect a police officer to try to get you to take blame for the drugs or to at least admit that you had knowledge of the drugs. Do not do it.
- Do Not Accept a Plea Deal
Another important prosecutorial strategy that defendants need to know about is the quick offer of a plea deal. If you are arrested for any type of drug possession, you may be surprised to see how quickly a plea agreement is offered to you. Never accept a plea deal before speaking to an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer will review your case and the terms of the agreement. If you are offered a plea without a lawyer, you are almost certainly not being offered a fair deal.
- Call a Defense Lawyer Before Making Any Statements
It is not in your best interests to make any statements to the police. Anything you say can be used against you in court. It is very easy for statements to get misinterpreted or to get taken out of the proper context. If you were arrested for drug possession, ask to speak to a defense lawyer. Your lawyer will protect your rights. Do not let yourself take the blame for drugs that were not yours.
Contact Our Jefferson County, CO Drug Possession Defense Lawyer Today
At Miller Leonard PC, our top-rated Colorado drug possession defense lawyer is standing by, ready to help you fight back against illegitimate drug charges. As a former prosecutor and public defender, Miller Leonard has a deep knowledge of Colorado’s criminal justice system. To set up a free, strictly confidential initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our Golden, CO law office today.