What Happens If Police Find Drugs In Your Vehicle In Florida?
Drug crimes are among the most common criminal charges. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), approximately 1.5 million drug crimes arrests are made nationwide each year. Drug charges are filed in a wide range of different circumstances. Prosecutors can be aggressive.
If you are pulled over and drugs are found in the vehicle—but not on your person—you could still face criminal charges. Here, our Orlando drug crimes defense attorney explains the most important things to understand about your rights and your risks if police find drugs in your vehicle.
Background: You Do Not Have to Give Consent to a Search of Your Vehicle
As a background, it is important to emphasize that police officers do not have an unencumbered right to search a vehicle. You are well within your legal rights to deny your consent for a search. If the police conduct a search without your consent and they find drugs, they will need to establish probable cause. Evidence obtained through an illegal search could potentially be excluded from a criminal trial. This can lead to drug charges being dismissed.
You Can Be Arrested If Drugs are Found in Your Vehicle, But Not On Your Person
You can be arrested and charged with a serious drug offense—potentially including possession or possession with intent to distribute—if illegal drugs are found within a vehicle that you are inside of. You could face charges for drugs found in the glove box, in the center console, under the seat, or in a bag. That the vehicle is not owned by you is not a surefire defense against a drug charge.
Criminal Defense Tip: Exercise your Constitutional right to remain silent. You are not required to answer questions from police—either before an arrest or after an arrest. It is always best to deal with law enforcement questions through an Orlando criminal defense lawyer.
What Prosecutors Need to Prove in a Drugs in Vehicle Case (Constructive Possession)
When police find drugs in a vehicle, they will often arrest one (or all) of the occupants on drug charges. Of course, a criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. In a drugs in the car case, prosecutors generally need to prove something called “constructive possession”. As the drugs were not actually found on your person, prosecutors must essentially prove that you were in possession of the drugs despite not actually touching them at the time of the arrest. To prove constructive possession, a prosecutor must establish the following two things:
- The defendant had knowledge of the presence of the drugs; and
- The defendant had dominion and control over the drugs.
Get Help From Our Orlando, FL Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense attorney has the skills and legal experience to take on the full range of drug charges, including possession charges, trafficking charges, and distribution charges. If you were arrested and charged with a crime after drugs were found in your vehicle, we can help. Get in touch with us by phone or contact us online to set up your confidential initial appointment. From our Orlando office, we handle drug charges throughout Central Florida.