In Maryland, you can be convicted of a crime even if the substance that you believed was an illegal drug was, in fact, not an illegal drug. You can also be convicted if the substance that you believed was a legal drug was, in fact, an illegal drug. The determining factors can get complicated.
First, the prosecution must show that the police complied with the Constitution in obtaining the drug. Second, if the drug is admitted as evidence, the defense can still win. This is the issue of possession of drugs.
The evidence must show that the defendant was in possession of the drug. The issue of possession of drugs is not as simple as proving that the defendant was near the drug. Conversely, a defense is not that, at the time of the arrest, the defendant was nor in possession. Also, a person holding drugs may not necessarily be in possession of the drugs. The issue is not determined by the defendant’s physical connection with the drugs.
In Maryland, there are several factors to be considered in the determination of whether a defendant was in possession of drugs, including
- the defendant’s proximity to the drugs
- whether the drugs were in plain view of the defendant
- whether it appeared that defendant used the drugs
- whether the defendant owned or rented the car or place where the police discovered the drugs.
Careful review of the evidence is necessary to determined whether the defense has a strong basis for denying possession. This is the role of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Often defendants believe that the police can not prove possession because they were not physically holding the drugs at the time that the police arrested them. This notion of possession is almost completely irrelevant.
When I review the police reports with my clients, my goal is to gather all of the information so that I can make the best possible assessment.