It might be surprising to learn that you can be convicted of being in possession of a firearm or drugs even if they were not directly on your person. However, it is possible to be arrested for this offense, and the penalties for being convicted for possession of drugs or guns can be severe. That is why it is important to learn what it means to be in constructive possession of illegal contraband. If you or a family member was arrested for possession of drugs or a firearm, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia drug defense lawyer today.
The Law Offices of Lloyd Long are prepared to listen to the unique details of your criminal case and help you devise a legal strategy that is tailored to your case. Criminal lawyer Lloyd Long is here to explain constructive possession in Pennsylvania.
Constructive Possession Definition
Constructive possession is a type of criminal law that permits law enforcement to arrest a suspect for drugs, firearms, or other illegal material that the suspect did not physically have on their person. For example, if you are driving and you have an illegal firearm inside the center console of your vehicle, if the police stop you and legally discover this firearm then there is a high chance that this will amount to constructive possession of a firearm.
Alternatively, physical possession means that the illegal object you were arrested with was physically in your possession. For example, if you hide drugs in your shoe and it is discovered when you are arrested, this is considered physical possession.
To learn more about constructive possession of drugs or firearms, you should continue reading and consider speaking with an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney.
Constructive Possession of Drugs or Firearms
The penalties for constructive possession of drugs or firearms are the same even if you are found in physical possession of these items. For example, if you are found in constructive or physical possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, you can serve up to 30 days in jail and be forced to pay a $500 fine if you are convicted.
If you are found in constructive possession of an illegal firearm, you can be convicted of a first degree misdemeanor under good circumstances. This means that a person who can legally carry a firearm may receive a lighter sentence than usual if they are arrested with a concealed firearm. However, the penalties for a first degree misdemeanor are still severe. A first degree misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $10,000 in criminal fines.
The penalties for constructive possession of drugs or firearms will typically depend on the circumstances of the crime. For example, if a defendant is discovered with a large amount of heroin, this can result in a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.
How to Beat a Constructive Possession Charge
The prosecution must prove a variety of factors to show that a defendant was in constructive possession of illegal contraband. It is not enough to simply show that the defendant was in the near vicinity of illegal drugs or firearms. Specifically, the court should evaluate the following factors:
- Fingerprints, DNA, or any other forensic evidence
- The statements made by the defendant regarding the contraband
- Any evidence that can directly link the contraband to the defendant
- Whether law enforcement observed the defendant attempting to hide contraband
This is not an exhaustive list; there are other factors the court may examine to determine the owner of illegal contraband. For example, if a defendant is found in constructive possession of a firearm in a car that they do not own, this can cast a shadow on whether they truly own the gun. Additionally, if there are multiple suspects in the vicinity the illegal item, this can also cause doubt as to its true owner.
There are multiple defenses that can help you prevail in a constructive possession case. If you can show that the illegal contraband was under another person’s control and that you do not have control over that individual, this can be a proper defense. For example, if you are in the back seat of a car and the front-seat passenger placed drugs in the glove compartment of the car, you do not have control over this area of the vehicle.
Another defense you may use is that you did not have the intent to control the drugs. Possession and intent to control an illegal item are a large part of proving that a defendant was in constructive possession of an illegal item.
Work with Our Philadelphia Firearm Possession Attorneys Today
If you or a family member was arrested for being in constructive possession of an illegal item, you should contact an experienced Philadelphia firearm possession attorney today. The legal team at the Law Offices of Lloyd Long possess a wealth of experience litigating various types of criminal law cases, and we will use this knowledge to help you defend your possession case. You do not have to fight your case alone, contact the Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free legal consultation.