Sometimes, drug charges are the result of obvious misconduct. Police officers catch people in the process of consuming or transferring drugs and arrest them. They may also find drugs in people’s pockets, purses or bodies. Other times, people may just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Police officers can and do arrest people because of their proximity to drugs.
When police officers find drugs in a vehicle or a living space, they may inquire about who owns those drugs. If no one admits to it, then police may make a decision to charge specific people, or possibly everyone present, with drug possession.
How the state builds proximity-based drug cases
It is not technically illegal to be near drugs if someone is unaware of their presence or has no control over them. People cannot be held accountable for information they do not have or circumstances they do not control.
When police officers arrest someone because they found drugs near them in a home or vehicle, prosecutors typically develop their criminal case based on claims of constructive possession. To do so, they generally need to establish that someone knew the drugs were present and theoretically had control over them.
Those fighting such charges need to raise a reasonable doubt about their possession of the drugs. Forensic evidence from the scene could raise questions about whether someone knew about the drugs or had any control over what happened to them. People can sometimes challenge the validity of drug charges when the state’s case hinges on assertions of constructive possession.
Learning more about Tennessee’s approach to drug crimes, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may benefit those arrested for possession or similar offenses.