When you get into another person’s vehicle, even if they are a friend or loved one, you might not always know what they keep on their person or stowed away in the car itself. If you are a passenger during a traffic stop, though, you might watch as the police discover illegal substances possessed by the driver.
Depending on where law enforcement officials discover drugs within a vehicle, it may be difficult to determine who is the actual owner of those substances. In such a case, you might find yourself facing potential drug possession charges even as an unassuming passenger.
What does Virginia law say about drug possession?
Depending on the substance in question, Virginia legal codes describe unlawful drug possession as either a misdemeanor or a Class 5 felony. You might potentially face drug possession charges and the ensuing consequences as a passenger if police officers find illegal substances in a communal area of a vehicle, such as the glovebox or trunk, as a result of a lawful search and seizure during a traffic stop.
What should I do if I receive a drug charge as a passenger?
The principle of constructive possession may apply when officers find illegal substances during a traffic stop. You can defend yourself against a charge based on constructive possession by asserting that you had no knowledge of the drugs in question nor did you have control over them in any capacity.
It can feel like the odds are against you when you receive a drug possession charge for substances you did not even know about. Strengthening your understanding of drug possession law and the actions you can take after an arrest will give you the best possible chance at a favorable outcome.