They’re going to arrest me! How can they arrest me? They didn’t find any drugs on me! I can’t be convicted, can I?

When you say “they,” you mean North Carolina law enforcement officials, right? Oh, yes, they can arrest you—and you can be convicted, even if they didn’t find any contraband on you.

Under North Carolina criminal law, possession of illegal drugs—or any other sort of forbidden material—can be established in either of two ways:

  • Active possession means that you had the drugs or other contraband on your person or in your immediate possession, such as in a purse or backpack.
  • Constructive possession means that even though you did not have drugs or other contraband immediately at hand, you controlled access to where the material was stored or hidden and had knowledge of the material’s location.

Constructive possession in a North Carolina controlled substance case is necessarily a matter of circumstantial evidence. This means that the police may not be able to prove conclusively that you were the owner of the drugs, but they can show you acted in such a way that the owner would in similar circumstances. Some types of evidence that could be used against you include:

  • Witness testimony that you said you knew where the drugs were stored or hidden.
  • Your attempts to dispose of the drugs when you realized law enforcement was suspicious of your behavior.
  • The discovery of the drugs in an area you control access to, such as your house or your vehicle.
  • The presence of your possessions or property in the vicinity where the drugs were found.
  • Your ownership of drug paraphernalia.
  • Your suspicious, nervous, or paranoid behavior when questioned or detained by law enforcement officers.

Maybe you don’t have to go to prison on a drugs charge

There are important things to remember about the use of constructive possession to connect you to contraband of any sort, such as illegal drugs:

  • The prosecution will have to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs are yours. Your defense attorney can rebut the prosecution by showing that circumstantial incriminating facts do not prove you controlled the drugs.
  • The search for the drugs must have followed all applicable legal rules. If there was a flaw in the warrant or its execution, your lawyer can try to have any evidence excluded from the trial.

Constructive possession cases are extremely fact-specific. If the prosecutor has even one of the less-important facts wrong, your defense attorney can throw doubt on the whole case against you.

A skilled Wilmington legal defense attorney is essential if you are accused of drug crimes in Pender, Brunswick, or New Hanover County. At Speaks Law Firm, our North Carolina drug possession lawyers have extensive experience in puncturing prosecutors’ shoddy casework.

Every day you wait allows the prosecution’s case to get stronger, so don’t delay. Call Speaks Law Firm today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 to get our legal defense team working for the best available outcome in your case.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.