What if no one admits to owning drugs found by police?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Drug Crimes

Drug possession offenses are among the most common crimes committed in North Carolina. The state has rules governing dozens of different substances. Some drugs are illegal regardless of the situation. Other drugs are only legal when prescribed by a doctor and used according to their instructions. Anyone found with controlled or banned drugs is at risk of prosecution.

If police officers show up at a party and conduct a search or search a vehicle with multiple people inside, they might potentially find drugs. When drugs are physically close to several people, officers may have a hard time determining who actually owns those drugs.

What happens if no one admits to owning the drugs that police officers find during a search?

The state may pursue constructive possession charges

Actual possession charges are the standard in most drug cases. Police officers find drugs in someone’s pocket or directly under their control. There is no question who owns the drugs. However, sometimes the drugs police officers find in a vehicle or residence and not in someone’s immediate possession. In that scenario, prosecutors might pursue constructive possession charges. North Carolina allows for the prosecution of an individual if the state can establish that someone knew there were drugs present and theoretically had control over them.

How people defend against constructive possession charges

There are several potential strategies that may benefit an individual accused of the constructive possession of drugs. They could try to prove that they never handled the drugs by looking at physical evidence. They might try to prove that someone else must have known about the drugs and had control over them. They might even try to establish that a previous tenant or vehicle occupants may have left those drugs behind on accident.

Raising questions about someone’s knowledge about the drugs and their ability to decide what happens to them could be a viable strategy in some cases. The location where police officers found the drugs and any physical evidence, including fingerprints, could play a role in someone’s defense strategy. Exploring different options when responding to pending North Carolina drug charges could help a defendant avoid a criminal conviction. Those who understand how the state builds a case can use that information to plan their defense accordingly.