Possession of a controlled substance is a serious charge in every state in the U.S., although the penalties will depend on the type of drug in possession, the amount, and the number of prior convictions. Cocaine possession, for instance, carries lighter penalties than heroin possession of equal amounts, but cocaine possession is still a felony even for first time offenders. A conviction on charges of cocaine possession could have grave personal and professional consequences. If you are ever charged with actual possession, you could be in trouble, but if you are charged with constructive cocaine possession, you may have a good chance of having the charge dismissed.
What is the difference between actual and constructive possession?
Actual possession means the cocaine was on your physical person at the time of arrest, and that is usually bad news. Constructive possession, however, means that the cocaine was not on your person but was on or about your property and that you had knowledge, dominion, and control over it.
While these two definitions may sound similar, they are actually very different. For example, say that cocaine was found in the trunk of your car but you didn’t know it was there. Immediately, the “knowledge” part of the constructive possession charge is absent, so that’s a possible defense. If the car is not even yours, or you share the use of it with another person, it means that you don’t have exclusive use of the vehicle, and this can bring the issue of control over the cocaine into question, which is another possible defense.
As long as the conditions for constructive possession are not met in their entirety, it is possible that you can have the charges against you dismissed. Even if it is not possible to have the charges against you dismissed in their entirety, it is possible that you may be have the charges and potential penalties against you reduced in severity.