Police officers have many reasons to try to find reasons to arrest people and convince a prosecutor to bring charges against them. Many arrests and prosecutions help convince a community that the police department serves its purpose. Additionally, certain kinds of criminal law enforcement, like drug busts, can leave to property seizures and asset forfeiture that can be financially beneficial for the department.
Sometimes, people end up accused of committing a drug offense because of something that police officers found that may not necessarily belong to them. Any time police officers search a vehicle, the owner of that vehicle could be at risk of criminal charges if they find contraband inside it. Is a vehicle’s owner always responsible for anything inside the vehicle?
The state may try to establish constructive possession
Someone is not automatically responsible for everything inside of a vehicle just because they own it, but they are at risk of being held accountable for anything that police officers find. If someone gets arrested because a cop finds drugs in their car, they may tell the officer truthfully that they didn’t know about the presence of those drugs.
However, the officer likely won’t believe those claims and will arrest that person anyway. The prosecutor may then try to bring possession charges against them based on what the officer found in their vehicle. To penalize someone for drugs in their vehicle, the state will need to establish constructive possession. That means they need to show that the accused person knew the drugs were there and had control over them.
The circumstances leading to a person’s arrest could help them challenge either of those two points. For example, perhaps the drugs were in a deep compartment in the trunk, so someone who recently purchased the vehicle may not have even known that they were there. A lack of fingerprints on the drug packaging could also help raise questions about whether the owner of the vehicle knew that those drugs were in their vehicle or had any involvement with them.
Trying to challenge the claim that someone knew about the substances located by officers in their vehicle could help them potentially avoid a conviction. Looking into every option for fighting back against pending drug charges will benefit those hoping to prove their innocence in Oklahoma.