When a friend offers you a ride, you might feel that you have no reason to refuse their generous offer. Even if you know that your friend might have illegal substances in their car, you may think that it will not affect you because the drugs clearly are not yours.
If you encounter a traffic stop during your trip, however, the situation likely will not play out as you assume. By learning more about the laws surrounding drug possession, you can understand the charges against you and build a more informed legal defense.
What does Pennsylvania law say about drug possession?
When multiple individuals are present in a vehicle containing illegal drugs, police cannot simply assume that the substances belong solely to the driver or vehicle owner. Pennsylvania law enforcement might instead charge each passenger with constructive possession on the grounds that each person in the vehicle has knowledge and access to the drugs in question. While precise ownership may be clear if the drugs are present on an individual’s person, each passenger may receive a constructive possession charge for substances located in the trunk, glove box or other communal space of the vehicle.
What can you do if you receive a drug charge?
You have multiple options when building a criminal defense case after receiving a drug charge. It might be possible to prove that your arrest is the result of a wrongful search. Alternatively, you may seek to establish that the controlled substances are not and could not be in your possession.
Situations in which police officers cannot reasonably determine the exact owner of illegal substances may lead to charges against all individuals who might have access to the drugs. You have the right to defend yourself if you enter a situation in which illegal drugs are present.