Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019
One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often involve narcotics, heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. To be found guilty of these offenses, the Commonwealth (DA) must prove that the arrested individual actually possessed the drugs. For the crime of PWID, the Commonwealth (DA) must prove an additional element – intent to deliver.
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Proving Possession with a Defendant’s Statement
Proving possession is often accomplished with the defendant’s pre and post-arrest statements. For instance, after arrest, a defendant may admit to owning the drugs by blurting out before being arrested, “Those drugs are mine.” Pre-arrest statements are often difficult to suppress, as are statements made after arrest and Miranda rights have been read. Therefore after arrest, it is important to exercise the constitutional right to remain silent. Click here to read about the right to remain silent and the importance of exercising that right.
What is Possession in a Philadelphia Criminal Drug Case
Possession in a Philadelphia drug case basically means that someone knowingly holds, carries, or otherwise directly controls the drugs. Mere knowledge of the presence and nature of the drugs (i.e., that drugs are present and that they are in fact, drugs) is not enough to prove the element of possession. Possession requires something more than simple knowledge, such as holding, touching, carrying, transporting, etc.
However, it is important to note that an individual can be found guilty of possession even though they were not holding, touching or carrying the drugs. This is constructive possession. Someone can still control drugs even though they did not actually hold/touch/carry the drugs.
Attacking the Commonwealth’s case in a drug case in Philadelphia often requires thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances of the case. Succeeding in a drug case by attacking the government’s argument regarding possession means making the following types of arguments:
- another person possessed the drugs,
- lack of knowledge of the presence of the drugs, and
- lack of knowledge of the nature of the drugs.
Joint Possession – More Than One Person Can Possess Drugs
In some cases, the Commonwealth may be able to prove that more than one person possessed the drugs. Under Pennsylvania criminal law, more than one person can in fact, possess drugs. However, each individual must have the intent to exercise joint control over the drugs, and each must have the power to control the drugs.
Conspiracy & Drug Charges
In some cases, even if an individual clearly did not possess drugs, they may be found guilty of the crime of Possession of a Controlled Substance, if it is proved that they were part of a conspiracy. In other words, the Commonwealth would be required to show that the defendant was part of a conspiracy, another co-conspirator possessed the drugs, and that possession occurred during the course of the conspiracy and furthered the goals of the conspiracy.
Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer Handling Drug Charges FREE CONSULTATIONS
If you or a loved one was arrested for a drug related charge in the Philadelphia area, including Montgomery, Delaware and Bucks County or in federal court, please call our criminal lawyers for a free consultation. (215) 564-0644
David Nenner is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has handled many drug cases in both Pennsylvania state and federal court. He offers a free phone consultation for all drug and gun cases.
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