Madison criminal defense lawyer Robert T. Ruth defends individuals accused of simple possession of controlled substances in Wisconsin. He has been a Wisconsin lawyer since 1993 and has devoted his law firm to criminal defense since then. He is well-versed in all aspects of criminal defense in Wisconsin and federal courts, from the initial stages of a case through direct appeal, petition for review or petition for certiorari and collateral attack. If you stand accused of possession of controlled substances in Wisconsin, let his experience in the courtroom, along with his commitment to his clients, go to work for you.
WI Drug Possession Lawyer - WI Drug Possession Attorney - Madison Drug Possession Lawyer - Madison Drug Possession Attorney
Possession, often called simple possession to distinguish it from possession with intent to deliver, is arguably the single most important concept in drug defense work, since it is at the core of most drug prosecutions. The definition of possession can be a tricky one. It may include the obvious situation of holding something in your hand. You may also be convicted of possessing a thing, however, that you have never even touched. The Wisconsin Jury Instructions define possession as follows:
Possessed means that the defendant knowingly had actual physical control of a substance. A substance is also in a person's possession if it is in an area over which the person had control and the person intends to exercise control over the substance. It is not required that a person own a substance in order to possess it. What is required is that the person exercise control over the substance. Possession may be shared with another person. If a person exercises control over a substance, the substance is in that person's possession, even though another person may also have similar control.
As far as the possession of drugs, the state also needs to prove that the substance in question is a control substance and that the accused knew or believed that the substance was a controlled substance.
Let's apply this definition to a few examples to get a better understanding of possible defenses. One typical scenario is that the police search a vehicle and find a controlled substance hidden in the vehicle somewhere. If you are the sole occupant of the vehicle, most likely the officer is going to conclude that you possess this controlled substance and arrest you for it. But wait. Just being in a vehicle with drugs hidden in it is not necessary enough to convict you. Remember, the state needs to provide every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Is there any proof that you knew that the drugs were hidden under the seat? If not, there is not enough evidence to convict. Was someone else recently in the vehicle? If so, that person may have hid the drugs in the car without your knowledge. Are there any fingerprints on the bag? The lack of identifiable prints does not necessarily disprove possession, since you may touch an object without leaving an identifiable fingerprint. The lack of a print, or even someone else's print, however, tends to direct the blame away from you. Is there any proof as to how long the bag has been hidden in the vehicle? If there is not, it is possible that it has been there for years, arguably lessening the likelihood that you knew about it.
Assume another example. The police stop you on the street and search your coat. Inside the breast pocket the officer finds a controlled substance. Is this illegal possession? Most likely the officer will say yes and arrest you. But under this scenario there are many unanswered questions that may defeat the case. Can the police prove that this is your coat? If it is not your coat, it is possible that you never even put your hand inside the breast pocket and had no idea what was in it. Can the police prove or disprove whether someone else recently wore the coat? Even if it is your coat, if someone else recently wore the coat it is possible that the person left the controlled substance in the pocket without your knowledge. Can the police prove that you knew that the container holding the controlled substance actually contained a controlled substance? For example, sometimes controlled substances are held in innocent containers like a cigarette pack. If someone handed you a cigarette pack that you believed only contained cigarettes, then even though you knowingly possessed the cigarette pack, you are innocent because you did not knowingly possess the controlled substance.
If you stand charged with possession of a controlled substance in Wisconsin, contact Madison drug possession defense attorney Robert T. Ruth for a free consultation to review possible defenses in your case.