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Can the police charge you over someone else’s drugs in your car?

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2022 | Criminal Law

When an Alabama police officer pulls you over, they may have already witnessed something that allows them to issue a traffic citation. They may also hope to spot evidence of a more serious criminal infraction so that they can arrest you and charge you with a crime. 

One of the ways that officers turn a basic traffic stop into a criminal charge is to search a vehicle to look for something illegal they might find there. Although your first instinct might be to agree to an officer’s request to search your vehicle, doing so might leave you vulnerable to drug charges. 

Constructive possession can make you responsible for anything in your vehicle

When police officers find you with something illegal in your pocket, they can charge you with having actual possession of a prohibited substance. However, if they find it jammed up under your seat or under the floor mats in the back of the vehicle, they will need to establish constructive possession

Constructive possession is the legal term for having knowledge of an item’s presence and therefore physical control over it. Those accused of a drug offense because of something found in their vehicle and the idea of constructive possession could seek to undermine the claim that they knew the item was in their vehicle. 

If you can create reasonable doubt about whether you knew about or had control over those items, you could potentially avoid a conviction that way. Showing that you frequently carpool or just bought a used vehicle could help you fight back against allegations of drug possession. 

Learning more about how the state builds the case for pending drug charges can help you plan a defense.