This is an audio case brief of Watson v. State, 877 So. 2d 914 (Fla. List. Ct. App. 2004). The audio brief provides a full case analysis. However a written summary of the case is provided below.
Police officers obtained a warrant to enter the bedroom of an apartment that belonged to Jake Watson’s grandmother. When they entered the bedroom, the officers observed Watson lying on a bed. Watson’s cousin was standing next to a dresser. The officers found crack cocaine on top of the dresser and in a dresser drawer.
Watson’s cousin pled guilty to possessing the cocaine with intent to sell. Watson was also charged with, and convicted of possession of the cocaine with intent to sell.
At Watson’s trial, his cousin testified that only he lived in the bedroom, and that he had placed the drugs on the dresser and in the drawer while Watson was sleeping in one of the two beds in the bedroom. He further testified that that Watson was asleep when the police entered the bedroom and that Watson was not aware of the drugs.
The grandmother also testified that the cousin lived in the bedroom, but that the Watson did not, although he was a frequent visitor. She also saw him asleep in the bedroom when the police entered.
Additionally, there was no evidence that the Watson lived in the bedroom, had control of it, or was aware of the presence of illegal drugs.
The state convicted Watson of possession of a controlled substance. Watson appealed his conviction.
The issue is whether Watson had construction possession of the crack cocaine in the room where he was sleeping.
Where a defendant does not have control or joint control of a premises, but is only a visitor, the defendant cannot be convicted of possession, unless there is evidence of control over the drugs.
The court found that Watson correctly argued that the state, in order to prove constructive possession under these facts, had to demonstrate that he had control or dominion over the room. A defendant who does not have control or joint control of a premises, but was only a visitor, cannot be convicted of possession, unless there is evidence of control over the drugs. Similarly a visitor in a bedroom occupied by another could not be guilty of possession of drugs unless there was evidence that the visitor had dominion and control over the drugs.
Watson’s conviction was reversed.