A Nebraska judge this week dismissed a case against Joseph Beard of Orlando, Fla., was set to be arraigned on a charge of possession of nearly 18 pounds of marijuana with intent to deliver it across the state. An attorney with Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly’s office asked to dismiss the case, saying there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. Last December, Beard was a passenger in a 2005 Suzuki XL7 stopped for speeding on Interstate 80. A police dog indicated the smell of drugs, which led to a search that turned up 18.25 pounds of high-quality medical marijuana, valued at nearly $90,000. A charge remains pending against the driver, Benjamin P. Smart of Ala.
In Florida, and almost every other state, possession of marijuana is illegal. Many do not understand though that the statement “It’s not my drugs, man” is actually a valid defense, under certain particular circumstances that must be present in one’s case. In order to be properly charged and convicted of possession of an illegal substance, the State must prove that one possesses that substance themselves or if the illegal substance is actually someone else’s.
There are two types of possession: actual and constructive. Actual means that the drugs in your hand or on your person. For example, If a law enforcement officer finds a baggie of marijuana in your pocket, then you are actually in possession of the drug because it is on or about your person.
Many times, when police find illegal substances, they are found in a place where more than one person had access. This requires the State to prove two very crucial elements of constructive possession before one can be convicted of Possession of Marijuana in Jacksonville:
- Knowledge of the drug’s presence AND
- Dominion and control over the drug
However, in a jointly occupied vehicle, a defendant’s proximity to contraband is insufficient to establish constructive possession. In situations like this, the State must present independent proof of the defendant’s knowledge and ability to control the contraband. The independent proof is usually established through the person in the car talking to the officer and admitting to possession of the drugs.
Many times, the prosecutor cannot meet their burden of proving constructive Possession unless the State can show some proof that you knew the cannabis was present. Even if law enforcement can show that one knew about the drug, the State must still show that not only did one know the marijuana was there, but one is also able to exercised dominion and control over it. If someone else has sole dominion and control over the drug, one should not be convicted of possession.
Remember that not all Drug possession charges are valid or constitutional. Many of these charges commonly stem from an illegal search conducted by law enforcement, that many times, goes unquestioned. Therefore, it is imperative one obtains an experienced attorney who will thoroughly investigate whether the initial stop and subsequent search were legal.
If the initial stop or subsequent search was illegal, the drugs seized will become inadmissible as evidence in court. This legal concept is often referred to as the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. The idea is that, if the search is illegal (i.e. the tree is poisoned), all the evidence flowing from the search is tainted (i.e., the fruit is also poisoned) and cannot be used in court.
An experienced attorney can also conduct depositions of all state witnesses and examine any evidence. Depositions many times may reveal problems in the State’s case that will allow one’s charge to be lessened or dismissed. For example, crime lab testing might have been faulty, the chain of custody might have been tampered with, the truthfulness and veracity of involved witnesses could be questioned, leading to a favorable outcome on a motion to suppress evidence. If the evidence is suppressed, the charge may not stand.
If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes defense attorney, one’s attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence and argue any potential defenses to one’s possession of the illegal substance either on one’s person or in one’s home.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Judge dismisses Florida man’s I-80 drug case, The Lincoln Journal-Star