One of the most common drug offenses include those who were found in possession of controlled substances. However, to be convicted of this crime, you do not have to actually be in possession of it in, say, your hand or shirt pocket. People can be charged with what is referred to as “constructive possession” of controlled drugs. This happens if a person wasn’t actually holding them, but had knowledge of the drug presence on their property and had the ability to maintain control over it.
If I am in proximity to a controlled drug could I be arrested?
Simply being near a controlled drug doesn’t mean that it is in your possession. There must be an additional element of that you had dominion over the item. Constructive possession is often treated similarly as “actual” possession, so the consequences for these two offenses may be alike. It is also possible that more than just one person can be charged for constructive possession, such as roommates who share an apartment together.
What if I am the only one who drives my car and lives at my place?
If you don’t share your home or vehicle with anyone else and controlled drugs were found in either of those locations, then this may be adequate proof due to the exclusive occupancy. The prosecution may be able to successfully show to the judge, that chances are, you are the one who had control over these items.
What is viewed as “having the ability to be in dominion or control over the drug”?
Based on the state you reside, what it means to have “the ability to be in dominion and control over an illegal drug” can vary depending on the case. Generally speaking, this is viewed as when someone has the intent, power, access to, and control over where the unlawful drugs are located. So even if it isn’t on you when questioned by law enforcement, if were able to gain possession over it at a property or location, it can be considered constructive possession.
How is having “knowledge” of the illegal drugs defined by law?
For someone to be charged with constructive possession of illegal drugs, there are two elements that must be proven by the prosecution. First, the person must have known that the item was on their property. The prosecution can usually show this by incriminating factors of the situation itself. In other words, the accused doesn’t have to make incriminating statements in order to be found guilty. Second, the person must have known or should have known that the drug was of an illegal nature.
If drugs are found at my home or in my car, is that constructive possession?
Close proximity to a drug that is controlled may not be sufficient to prove that you are guilty of constructive possession. Other elements must apply in order to link you to those illegal substances. To put this in a real life scenario, if drugs are found in the glove compartment of your car and you have the keys to your vehicle, then you may be found in constructive possession of these drugs.
Contact a drug crime lawyer, like a drug crime lawyer in Fairfax, VA, if you or someone you know is being faced with drug possession charges.
Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into what “constructive possession” of a controlled substance is.