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Constructive possession of drugs: Understand how the charges work

What exactly is constructive drug possession?

This is a legal concept that anyone in this day of shared residences and shared rides should understand -- before they get into trouble.

You can have constructive possession of drugs simply by having control over the drugs in question -- even if the stash wasn't yours or wasn't found directly on your person. For example, you can be charged with constructive drug possession in a variety of circumstances:

-- Drugs are found in a common area of a shared residence, like hidden in the back tank of a toilet or in a cereal box in the kitchen where you could just as easily be the owner as anyone else in the residence.

-- You take a ride from Uber or Lyft and the driver gets pulled over and there are drugs found underneath the passenger seat where you're sitting.

-- Drugs are found in a roommate's personal area but they are either openly displayed (left on a table) or unsecured (tossed in the top of a sock drawer), giving you easy access and potential control over them.

-- A friend asks you to keep the key to a storage unit where he has a marijuana "grow room" in operation for a few days, since he's worried about a possible police raid. If the police also have you under investigation, you could have a difficult time arguing that you didn't have actual control over the drugs.

-- Drugs that do belong to you are found on another person. For example, you tuck your marijuana stash into a friend's backpack while you're going through airport security because you think he or she looks less suspicious. If the police find the drugs and are able to trace them back to you, you can still be charged with constructive possession.

-- You ask a friend to hold onto some pills while you're in a nightclub because you don't have any pockets. If the police raid the place, you may still be charged -- even though the drugs weren't actually in your possession at the time.

The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you both knew the drugs were there and had control over them. This gives a criminal defense attorney a lot of potential room to fight the charges. If you've been charged with constructive possession, contact an attorney promptly.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Possession Overview," accessed April 18, 2017

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