Traffic Stops and Drug Possession

The majority of all drug possession charges occur after a traffic stop.? What we have learned in our years as prosecutors and defense attorneys is that police officers continue to arrest drivers anytime drugs are found anywhere inside the vehicle.? Its simple to the police.? If you are driving then this must be your car and it must be your drugs.? THAT IS NOT THE LAW.
Some examples of when courts found that the State couldn’t prove possession beyond a reasonable doubt.

The evidence has been found insufficient to support a finding of knowing possession by a defendant who was the driver when the contraband was found in the following locations:

– In the glove compartment [see?Presswood v. State, 548 S.W.2d 398, 399-400 (Crim. App. 1977)].
– In an envelope on the dashboard of the car [see?Baltazar v. State, 638 S.W.2d 130, 131-132 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1982, no pet.).
– In an unzipped gym bag on the passenger seat [see?Humason v. State, 728 S.W.2d 363, 366 (Crim. App. 1987)].
– In the ashtray [see?Thomas v. State, 762 S.W.2d 721, 723-724 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1988, no pet.)].
– In the trunk [see?Doyle v. State, 779 S.W.2d 492, 496 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1989, ? -); Baty v. State, 734 S.W.2d 62, 63-65 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1987, pet. ref.)].
– Underneath an armrest in the front seat between the driver and the passenger [see?Allen v. State, 786 S.W.2d 738, 739-740 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1989, pet. granted)-original opinion].
Other examples of factual situations in which the evidence has been found insufficient to support a finding of knowing possession are:
– The defendant was a passenger in a car carrying 660 pounds of marihuana, but there was no additional evidence that the defendant knew of its presence [see?Reyes v. State, 575 S.W.2d 38, 39-40 (Crim. App. 1979)].
– The defendant entered the vehicle just before the arrest and the contraband was found under some papers near where the defendant was seated [see?McBride v. State, 780 S.W.2d 823, 824 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1989, ? -)].
– The defendant was a passenger in the back seat and contraband was found on the dashboard [see?Harvey v. State, 487 S.W.2d 75, 77-78 (Crim. App. 1972)].

Reese Campbell

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