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Possession of Cocaine

Pursuant to Florida Statute 893.13(6)(a), a person found to be in “actual” or “constructive possession” of cocaine commits a third degree felony.

Elements

To prove the crime of Possession of Cocaine, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused possessed a certain substance.
  2. The substance was cocaine.
  3.  The accused had knowledge of the presence of the substance.

To “possess” means to have personal charge of or exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the thing possessed.

Possession may be actual or constructive.

Actual possession means:

a.    The controlled substance is in the hand of or on the person, or

b.    The controlled substance is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or

c.    The controlled substance is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control
of the person.

To prove constructive possession, the state must show:
That the accused had knowledge of the contraband/item ;
That the accused had the ability to exercise dominion and control over the contraband/item.
If the premises on which contraband is found is in joint occupancy, rather than exclusive occupancy, knowledge of the presence of the contraband on the premises and the accused’s ability to maintain control over it will not be inferred, but must be established by independent proof.  Such proof may consist either of evidence establishing that the accused had actual knowledge of the presence of the contraband, or of evidence of incriminating statements and circumstances, other than the mere location of the substance, from which a jury might lawfully infer knowledge by the accused of the presence of the contraband on the premises. Mere proximity [emphasis added] to contraband is not sufficient to establish constructive possession. J.M. v. State, 839 So. 2d 832 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003)

To support a finding of probable cause to arrest on a constructive possession theory, the State must establish by a factual showing that the arresting officer reasonably believes the accused has dominion and control over the contraband, knows it is in his presence, and knows of its illicit nature. Mere proximity to contraband found in a public place and in the vicinity of several other people does not warrant a finding that the police officer has probable cause to believe that the person or persons closest to the contraband possesses it. McGowan v. State, 778 So. 2d 354 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2001).

Penalties

Possession of cocaine is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison.
Collateral Penalties
Upon conviction of a drug charge the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspended your driver’s license for two years.
If you are convicted of Possession of Cocaine, you will be deemed a convicted felon.  You will lose your right to vote, right to possess a firearm and many other rights.  Additionally, you will never be able to have your record sealed or expunged.

If you are charged with Possession of Cocaine or any other criminal offense in Broward County, an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney is essential.  Hiring the right criminal defense attorney could be the difference between freedom and prison.  For a free consultation to see how Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney David J. Sobel can defend you, contact David Sobel at 954-383-3000. You will be able to speak directly with David Sobel 24/7.

David Sobel is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney representing clients throughout Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County and all other counties in the State of Florida.