Can I Be Arrested for Drugs That Aren’t Mine?
Many individuals are surprised to learn that they can be arrested for a drug offense even if the drugs aren’t theirs. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to get arrested and face criminal charges even if they know for a fact that the drugs did not belong to them.
According to a report by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the rate of drug possession arrests in the state stood at 255.2 for every 100,000 persons in 2020. It is unclear how many of those arrests were for drugs that did not actually belong to the defendant.
Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you were arrested for drugs but had no idea how the drugs got there. Do not provide any statements to law enforcement until you consult with your attorney, as this could worsen your situation. Our attorneys at Madson Castello Law can explain your defense options to avoid formal charges and fight for the best possible resolution of your case. With an office in Dallas, Texas, we represent individuals facing drug-related charges in Fort Worth, McKinney, Denton, and other parts of North Texas. Set up a consultation with us today.
What Is Drug Possession?
In simple terms, drug possession is defined as having illegal drugs on your person or in an area under your control (like a car or house). Depending on the specifics of the case, simply being in possession or control of illegal drugs can result in being charged with a crime. Even if the drugs are not yours, you can still face charges if they are found in an area that you have access to or control over.
Constructive possession refers to having control over something—such as drugs—even if you don’t have physical ownership of it. Constructive possession does not require you to own the drugs but rather just have knowledge of them and access to them.
For example, you could be charged with constructive possession if someone puts drugs in your car without your knowledge and you are found with those drugs in your car. You may not have put them there yourself, but because they were in your car, you had access to them and therefore had constructive possession of them.
That is not to say, however, that you cannot fight against drug possession charges that are based on constructive possession. Speak with a skilled attorney who can explain how to proceed in your specific case to avoid punishment for drugs that weren’t yours.
The ‘Know or Should Have Known’ Rule
In many drug possession cases, prosecutors must prove that the defendant knew or should have known that he/she possessed illegal substances. The “know or should have known” rule is often used when a defendant claims they did not know about the presence of the drugs in question or was unaware that these substances were illegal substances.
For example, let’s say an individual is staying at a friend’s house who has drugs stored there without his knowledge. If he didn’t know about the presence of those drugs, then he would likely not be convicted since it can be argued that he did not “know or should have known” about their presence.
On the other hand, if a law enforcement officer finds illegal substances on an individual who was already aware of their presence and knew they were illegal, then it can be argued that this person did “know or should have known” about them being there and may face legal repercussions accordingly.
In some cases, circumstantial evidence like location (e.g., an individual being found near where an illegal substance was located) can also be used against the defendant as incriminating evidence in a drug charge case. A prosecutor may try to argue that such circumstantial evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware of the illegal substances’ presence and thus had constructive possession over them—even if no physical evidence exists linking the person directly to said substances themselves.
Ultimately though, each case is different, so it’s important for individuals facing such charges to speak with an attorney who can help advise them on their best course of action given their particular circumstances.
Possible Penalties for Drug Possession
Possible penalties for drug possession crimes in Texas range from fines and probation all the way up to jail time. The severity of the penalty depends on several factors, including the type and quantity of the drug found as well as any prior convictions related to drug offenses. Regardless of the circumstance, reach out to an experienced attorney to understand your rights and develop the best possible defense strategy to avoid or reduce penalties in your case.
Speak With an Experienced Attorney
If you were arrested for drugs that weren’t yours in Dallas or other parts of North Texas, contact Madson Castello Law to get immediate legal counsel. Our skilled and results-driven attorneys have more than 30 years of experience representing individuals who face criminal charges, including drug possession. We can examine your case from different angles and provide you with the personalized attention you deserve. Reach out to our office to set up a consultation.