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In Florida, a defendant who does not have control or joint control of the premises, but is only a visitor, cannot be convicted of possession, unless there is evidence of control over the drugs. A visitor in a bedroom occupied by another can not be guilty of possession of drugs unless there is evidence that the visitor had dominion and control over the drugs.
After obtaining a warrant, the police entered the bedroom of an apartment of defendant's grandmother. The officers, when they entered the bedroom, observed defendant lying on a bed. Defendant's cousin was standing next to a dresser. They found crack cocaine on top of the dresser and in a dresser drawer. The cousin pled guilty to possessing the cocaine with intent to sell. At defendant's trial, the cousin testified that only he lived in the bedroom, and that he had placed the drugs on the dresser and in the drawer while defendant was sleeping in one of the two beds in the bedroom. He further testified that defendant was not aware of the drugs. The grandmother testified that the cousin lived in the bedroom, but that defendant did not, although he was a frequent visitor. There was no evidence that defendant lived in the bedroom, had control of it, or was aware of the presence of illegal drugs.
Was Watson’s conviction proper?
Under the circumstances presented, the appellate court held that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to convict Watson, as the State failed to prove that Watson constructively possessed the drugs.