Clients sometimes claim that the government has charged them with possession of illegal drugs but the charges are baseless because the police did not find any of the drugs in question on their person at the time of arrest. It is important to understand that if the government is not able to prove that a person actually possessed an illegal item, it may demonstrate constructive possession of such items by showing that you had control or intended to exercise control over the item.
A constructive possession analysis requires that a Court examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the arrest. A Court may convict you for illegal possession under a constructive possession theory where it appears under the totality of the circumstances you exercised conscious dominion and control over it. In other words, constructive possession is the ability and intention to control an illegal substance without having actual physical possession. For example, if the police find a key to a train station locker when they searched you they can charge you with constructive possession of the contents in the locker even if you were not in the train station at the time of the search.
It is important to understand that even if the prosecutor cannot charge you with constructive possession, they may still successfully prosecute you for criminal conspiracy. A Court can find you guilty of criminal conspiracy if the prosecution can demonstrate that you agreed with one or more persons to commit a crime. You are also guilty of criminal conspiracy if you provide aid to someone in planning or committing a crime. It is also important to understand that if you are found guilty of criminal conspiracy, you may be found guilty for more than you realize. If, for example, the prosecution is able to show that you knew a person was conspiring with others in addition to yourself, you could be found guilty of conspiring with everyone. Criminal conspiracy does not have its own sentencing grading so if you are convicted of conspiracy you face the same grading as the actual crime. The prosecution must establish that you had an agreement with at least one other person and that you took a substantial step toward completing the actual conspiracy.
However, you will not be found guilty of conspiracy if you can demonstrate a renunciation to the act. Renunciation means that upon becoming aware of the criminal nature of the act you affirmatively disengage from the group.
It is important to remember that the prosecution may charge you criminally for constructive possession despite a lack of actual possession of any illegal item.
Therefore, if you are charged with either criminal conspiracy or constructive possession, it is important that you hire an experienced defense attorney to represent your interests. For more information contact our Ridley Park office and speak with Gregory J. Spadea, Esq. of Spadea & Associates, LLC at 610-521-0604 regarding your options in these cases.