If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is stopped for a traffic violation and a large amount of drugs are found in the vehicle you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver—even if the vehicle does not belong to you, even if the drugs were found in the trunk.
Most of the time the police are not trying to spend a whole lot of time on the side of the road trying to figure out who the drugs found in a vehicle belong to. If they cannot figure it out within a few minutes they are usually going to take everyone in the vehicle to jail. They figure the lawyers, judges and maybe even the jury can sort it out later.
The police officer that stops the vehicle just needs reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. Then the police officer needs probable cause to search.
Most of the time the officer is going to use the fact that a driver committed a traffic violation as the reasonable suspicion.
Then once the vehicle is stopped the officer is going to use any number of reasons to justify searching the vehicle. Some of the common reasons are the officer is going to say that he smelled marijuana, that the passengers and the driver were telling different stories about where they were coming from, that the passenger and driver were acting nervous, that the officer saw contraband in plain view or that the officer ran the driver’s license and found that he had outstanding warrants. The officer can also search if the driver gives consent or if a trained K9 dog is used by the officer and it alerts on the vehicle.
The person charged with this offense should sit down with an attorney, go over the evidence, and have a thorough discussion about whether or not to go to trial or negotiate a plea bargain.
Here Are 8 Concepts Every Car Passenger Charged With Possession Of Controlled Substance With Intent To Deliver Needs To Consider Before Deciding Whether To Go To Trial Or Negotiate A Plea Bargain.
Below are the basic concepts. There are many different exceptions and nuances to these concepts that will have to be discussed with an attorney who can apply them to a particular situation and go more in depth.
#1 Reasonable Suspicion
The officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.The State must only elicit testimony that the officer knew sufficient facts to reasonably suspect that the defendant had violated a traffic law.
#2 Probable Cause To Search
A search must be supported by probable cause. The Officer needs to have specific facts that a crime was being committed or about to be committed. He cannot search based upon a hunch and he can’t go on a “fishing expedition.”
Possession can be proven several different ways. For example:
actual care, custody, control or management over the drugs.
If it can be shown that an individual has knowledge of drugs discovered in a certain location, they may be convicted of constructive possession if the prosecutor can show that they also had care, custody, control or management over the drugs.
Knowledge is self explanatory. It just means that you knew that the drugs were there and you knew that it was drugs.
#5 Intent To Deliver
Intent to deliver can be inferred from the amount of drugs and the packaging.
#6 Law Of Parties
Law of parties just means that an individual solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid another person to commit an offense.
#7 Accomplice Testimony
Accomplice testimony is commonly known as “snitch” testimony. Texas law says that an accomplice’s testimony cannot be used against an individual alone. The accomplice’s testimony has to be credible and it has to be verified by other evidence.
#8 Affirmative Links
Affirmative links is a concept that usually comes into play when the person arrested is not the only person that had access to the area in which the drugs were found. There are several factors that are considered when determining whether or not there is an affirmative link, such as:
- The accused’s presence when a search is conducted;
- Whether the contraband was in-plain view;
- The accused’s proximity to, and the accessibility of, the contraband;
- Whether the accused was under the influence of narcotics when arrested;
- Whether the accused possessed narcotics or other contraband when arrested;
- Whether the accused made incriminating statements when arrested;
- Whether the accused attempted to flee;
- Whether the accused made furtive gestures;
- Whether there was an odor of contraband;
- Whether other contraband or drug paraphernalia were present;
- Whether the accused owned or had the right to possess the place where the contraband was found;
- Whether the place where the contraband was found was enclosed;
- Whether the accused was found with a large amount of cash; and
- Whether the conduct of the accused indicated a consciousness of guilt.
Every fact situation is different and there is potential to fight the validity of everyone of these concepts.
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