Person in handcuffs


Hebets & McCallin April 26, 2022

Drug possession is one of the most common criminal charges in Colorado. However, many people charged with this crime, even when the drugs belonged to someone else, did not know the drugs were there.

But can you actually be arrested for and convicted of drug possession if drugs were not yours? Understandably, most people who get arrested for drug possession say, “the drugs aren’t mine!” even when they are actually guilty of the crime.

However, many people are wrongfully convicted when the drugs do not belong to them. If you are facing drug possession charges, but the drugs were not yours, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Your freedom and future are at stake, which is why you need legal counsel to convince the judge and jury that you are innocent.

At Hebets & McCallin, our attorneys are dedicated to defending people facing drug-related charges. We know what it takes to defend clients in Denver, Colorado, against drug charges. Explore your legal options with a knowledgeable attorney if you want to assert the “drugs weren’t mine” defense in your criminal case. Our team serves clients in Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Adams County, Colorado.

What Is Constructive Possession?

In drug possession cases, the prosecution has the burden to prove that the drugs belonged to the defendant. This can be done by proving that the defendant had actual or constructive possession of the drugs.

While actual possession refers to situations where drugs are on the person (for example, a police officer found drugs in your pockets), constructive possession is more complicated than that.  

Constructive possession refers to situations in which a person is responsible for a drug even when they lack physical control of it. The constructive possession doctrine is the main reason why so many people face drug possession charges when the drugs do not actually belong to them.

The doctrine may apply when drugs are in your vehicle, room, or house. An example would be finding drugs in plain view in the backseat of a rideshare vehicle driven by an Uber driver. In that situation, the driver must prove that the drugs did not belong to them to avoid drug possession charges. Regardless of whether you are charged with drug possession under the actual or constructive possession doctrine, you can face serious penalties, including fines and jail time.

The ‘Know’ or ‘Should Have Known’ Standard

If you face charges for drug possession based on the constructive possession theory, the prosecution has the burden to prove that you knew or should have known that the drugs were there. If the prosecution can prove that you knew or should have known about the drugs, you can face criminal penalties even if the drugs do not belong to you.  

For example, if drugs are on top of the kitchen table in your house, you can face charges for drug possession because the prosecution will most likely establish that you knew or should have known that the drugs were there. However, if you share a room with a couple of roommates, the prosecution may need more evidence to prove that the drugs belonged to you, not one of your roommates. 

Incriminating Circumstances

There are a number of incriminating facts and circumstances that may make it harder to assert the “drugs aren’t mine” defense when facing drug possession charges. If any of the following incriminating facts and circumstances exist in your case, the prosecution is more likely to prove that the drugs belonged to you under the constructive possession doctrine.

  • The drugs were in plain view;

  • The drugs were found among your other personal items, including your phone, lighter, wallet, or others;

  • There was no one else in your vehicle, house, or room when the drugs were found;

  • You have control or ownership over the place where the drugs were found, and:

  • You were impaired by the drug at the time of the arrest.

These and many other facts may be used against you to prove that the drugs belonged to you. However, just because any of the factors exist in your case does not automatically make you guilty. You may still be able to fight against the charges if you can prove that the drugs were not yours. To do this, you must hire a reliable and skilled attorney to strengthen your case and gather all available evidence to prove that the drugs belonged to another person.

How a Reliable and Skilled Attorney Can Help 

An experienced criminal defense attorney can prepare a strong defense strategy to reduce or dismiss the charges. At Hebets & McCallin, we understand how serious a conviction for drug possession can be. That is why our attorneys in Denver, Colorado, are prepared to advocate for your rights at every stage of the process and fight for a favorable resolution. Contact us today to build a solid defense for your case.v