A common problem with drug possession cases these days involves the situation whereby drugs are found with several people around, i.e. “constructive possession”. How do Orlando police decide who to charge with possession? Such situations require actual, good ‘ol fashioned police work, the kind of stuff Orlando defense attorney’s such as myself are not used to seeing. While that can be good for business, we all suffer when government employees (police) do not do their job.
So, to get back on track here, drugs found in the presence of several people requires that the state prove the person charge had (1) dominion and control, plus (2) knowledge of the contraband’s presence. Today, we’re focusing on one of my favorite dominion and control cases, Roberts v. State, 505 So.2d 547 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1987). In Roberts, the two co-defendants Solie and Roberts were unknowingly brokering the sale of 108 pounds of weed with undercover agents. Before consumating the deal, the defendant’s wanted to weigh the bales first, so the undercover agents showed up with bales of weed. Roberts took possession of a bail of cannabis on which a sale was not yet completed to weigh it, but before he could do so take-down units rushed into the home and arrested Roberts with felony possession (among other things).
With regard to the felony possession of cannabis, the appeals court overturned Roberts’ conviction. Even though Roberts, technically, had ‘control’ over the weed, the court found that he did not have ‘dominion’ over the bail, as the bale was still owned by the undercover agents. The court held that “Under these circumstances, neither Solie’s transitory touching of the bale nor the bale’s presence in the house is sufficient to demonstrate that either Solie or Roberts possessed it, either actually or constructively.” Id.
Once again, technically “possessing” a drug does not mean that a person is actually guilty of the criminal act of possession. When multiple people are present (i.e. constructive possession), the law requires both “dominion and control” of the drug. If you have any doubts, there’s a great criminal defense attorney in Orlando that can discuss such matters with you, give him a call….