In Philadelphia drug cases, individuals do not actually have to have possession of drugs on their persons to be charged with possession. They may be charged with drug possession if there is constructive possession.
What is Constructive Possession of Drugs in Philadelphia?
In order to prove that defendants had constructive possession under Pennsylvania drug law, the prosecution must prove the following:
- The individual knew that the drugs were located at, in or around the place where they were discovered.
- The individual knew or should have known that the drugs are illegal.
- The individual had control of the drugs, i.e., the ability and intention to control/move the drugs.
Related: Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer – Reasonable Suspicion vs. Probable Cause in Drug Possession and Related Drug Cases
Below are two examples of when individuals had constructive possession of drugs.
Example 1: A police officer sees a group of people at a corner that is well known for drug dealing in Philadelphia. As the officer approaches the group, the people start to walk away. The officer sees a small bag drop out of an individual’s pocket as he is walking away. The officer stops the individual and sees that the bag that dropped out is a bag of heroin. The individual is charged with possession. The prosecution argues that the individual had constructive possession. He knew where the drugs were located when the officer found it because he tossed it out of his pocket. He knew that heroin is illegal. Lastly, he had control and the ability to move it, i.e., throw it out of his pocket.
Example 2: During a search of a home, large amounts of heroin and cocaine were found in a room that appears to be a home gym. Two individuals live in the home, and they are arrested and charged with PWID. One individual argues that he knew nothing about the drugs, but the prosecution may argue otherwise. The prosecution may allege that he had constructive possession of the drugs because he used the home gym. He knew where the drugs were located, and knew or should have known that the drugs are illegal. In addition, he had control of the drugs because they were in plain sight on a table.
Help after Charged with Drug Possession in Philadelphia
David Nenner has been a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia for over 30 years, and has been rated as a Top Philadelphia Criminal Defense lawyer. Unlike many criminal defense lawyers, Mr. Nenner offers FREE consultations. 215.564.0644