Can I Be Arrested for Drugs That Aren’t Mine in Colorado?
Dec. 29, 2022
Facing drug charges can be confusing and stressful, especially if the drugs were not yours to begin with. Your reputation and future are on the line — all for something that you may have had no control over.
Laws prohibiting drug use are there to keep people safe, but that doesn’t mean you should be convicted for another’s crime. In Colorado, you can be arrested for drugs that aren’t yours on the basis of constructive possession, which is one of three types of possession you could be charged for. Depending on the details of your case, if you are found guilty of drug possession, you could face up to $5,000 in fines or 18 months in county jail for a misdemeanor offense, or up to $100,000 in fines or 12 months in prison for a felony offense.
If you were arrested for possessing drugs that weren’t yours, I’m here to shed light on your situation so that you can understand and exercise your right to a fair defense.
What Is Constructive Possession?
Constructive possession can be defined as having some level of control over a drug without it being on your person. This applies to a variety of scenarios and can happen to anyone at any time. Throughout this blog, I’ll refer to the following examples:
Example 1: You’re a Lyft or Uber driver and you have a passenger on board. Suddenly, police pull you over at a traffic light. They search the car and find drugs on your passenger. As the driver of the vehicle, you are charged with constructive possession because you were in control of the vehicle where the drugs were found.
Example 2: Some friends come over to your place for a party. One of them brings drugs. Neighbors call the police on you because they think you’re being too loud. The police come, search the house, and find the drugs. Since it was your home, you are arrested, even if you didn’t ever touch the drugs. The rest of the partygoers are arrested as well.
Both exemplify scenarios in which you could be arrested for drugs that are not technically yours.
If you have been charged with constructive possession or another drug offense, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to handle your case. My firm — Watkins Law Firm LLC — is located in Boulder, Colorado, and serves clients throughout the neighboring areas of Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, and Broomfield. Give me a call today to learn how I can help.
What Is the Basis of a Constructive Defense Case?
The goal of the prosecutors in a constructive possession case is to prove:
The drugs were found in a space that the defendant had control over.
The defendant’s knowledge of the drug's presence on their property.
In the example involving the Lyft driver, law enforcement must claim that, as the driver, you knew the passenger had drugs on their person. Additionally, the prosecution’s case must prove that you intended to interact with the drugs, i.e., consume, sell, or purchase them.
The situation at the party is arguably easier for the prosecution to prove, especially if the partygoers test positive after taking a drug test. As the host of the party, the prosecution will paint you as partially responsible because, even if you did not supply the drugs, you knew about their presence and welcomed them into your home.
In summary, the entire basis for constructive possession lies in proving an individual knew about the drugs, intended to interact with them, and/or help the other parties attempt to evade detection. If you’ve been charged with constructive possession, team up with an experienced drug crimes attorney to help solidify your defense.
What Are Incriminating Circumstances?
So, what happens if it looks like someone appeared to know about drugs, but did not actually possess them? Defined as a situation that, through the nature of the facts, establishes the guilt of a person, incriminating circumstances can lead to their arrest and, possibly, their conviction.
Let’s return to the Lyft driver scenario for a moment. When the passenger spots the police, say they quickly stash the drugs under the seat. When the police search the car, they find the drugs under the seat. In this situation, it would be reasonable for law enforcement to assume the drugs belong to you (the driver) and not the passenger because of the incriminating circumstances of the drugs being under the seat of your car. Without a DNA sample or the confession of the passenger, it’d be quite difficult to prove your innocence.
Hiring a professional criminal defense lawyer can make a significant difference when facing such a situation. A top criminal defense attorney in Colorado can work with prosecutors to examine the circumstances more closely. This approach is especially important when the charged individual is a law-abiding citizen with a clean rap sheet.
Finding the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer in Colorado
At the Watkins Law Firm LLC, I am ready to bat for you. I know how frustrating and downright confusing facing drug possession charges can be.
Let me help you protect your right to a fair defense. Call today to speak with a professional criminal defense attorney. Please remember, the clock is ticking, so don’t delay — call my firm today.