But what’s the difference between actual possession and constructive possession of drugs? In this post, we answer that question and look at the penalties and possible defenses.

For help after being charged with possession, contact Honolulu drug defense lawyer Michael Fayard at (808) 445-6708 or use our online contact form to reach out.

Actual Possession of Drugs

In Hawaii, actual possession of drugs is a common charge that happens at traffic stops and searches. The police find drugs on you and charge you with possession. Because you allegedly had the illegal drugs on your person, the possession is considered “actual.”

This is the simplest type of drug possession. If police find you to be in actual possession of drugs, they will likely arrest you on the spot.

Constructive Possession of Drugs

Constructive possession of drugs is somewhat more complex than actual possession. If you are accused of this type of drug possession, you can be arrested without even having drugs on you.

Why? Because the police say they believe you have access to illegal drugs. You can also be arrested for this type of possession if you are thought to have access to and control over drugs indirectly through another person.

That may seem hard to believe, but it happens all the time in Hawaii. One simple example of constructive possession of drugs would be the police arresting you and everyone else who has a key to a safe that allegedly contains heroin.

Defending Against Constructive Possession Charges

In actual possession, the link between you and the drugs you are accused of possessing is fairly clear. You had them on your person, so you likely knew they were there and owned them.

On the other hand, constructive possession draws a much less clear line between you and the drugs in question. In the example about the safe above, does simply having the key to a safe mean you know what is inside it when others also have a key? Certainly not.

To defend against a constructive possession drug charge, your defense lawyer will want to point out that you did not have sole access to the drugs’ location. That means there is reason to doubt that you knew the drugs were there.

Another possible defense for constructive possession would involve showing that the drugs were likely planted – either by someone you know or law enforcement.

For both actual and constructive drug possession, several other possible defenses could apply to your case:

  • You could show that the drugs are not yours or you had no idea they were there
  • You were a victim of entrapment from law enforcement
  • The substance in question was not an illegal drug
  • The police illegally searched you, your vehicle, or your home
  • The drugs did not pass through the proper chain of custody after police seized them

A skilled drug defense lawyer can help you find the right defense for your case.

Penalties for Drug Possession in Hawaii

Penalties for both actual and constructive drug possession in Hawaii can vary widely, depending on the type and amount of drug and whether you were selling it.

Below are some penalties for the different levels of felony drug possession charges in Hawaii:

  • Class A Felony Drug Possession: Up to $50,000 in fines and 20 years in prison
  • Class B Felony Drug Possession: Up to $25,000 in fines and 10 years in prison
  • Class C Felony Drug Possession: Up to $10,000 in fines and five years in prison

Call Michael Fayard, Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether you have been charged with actual or constructive drug possession in Hawaii, you are in a severe situation. But there is hope. If you fight your charge, you may be able to avoid harsh punishments like prison time and fines.

Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Fayard can help you do that. We can build a bulletproof defense to help you fight your drug charge. To get started, call us at (808) 445-6708 or contact us online today.