If you find yourself facing any kind of drug charge, you should know about constructive possession. FindLaw explains that this doctrine provides the prosecutor a way to convict you even when you do not actually possess the drugs on which the prosecution bases its case.
Most drug convictions occur because the prosecutor can prove that officers recovered the drugs in question from the defendant, such as from his or her pocket, purse, etc. In other words, he or she had actual possession of them.
How constructive possession works
But what happens when officers recover the drugs from somewhere else, such as from your vehicle or your home? When this happens, the prosecutor must rely on circumstantial evidence to prove that you constructively possessed them. The evidence must be strong enough that the jury can reasonably infer that the drugs belonged to you.
For example, assume the following:
- A law enforcement officer testifies that he or she pulled you over for speeding, but then found a baggie containing illicit drugs during a legal search of your vehicle.
- He or she found the baggie in your unlocked center console.
- You had two passengers in the car at the time of the search.
Under these circumstances, the prosecutor cannot convict you of any drug charge because he or she cannot prove that you possessed or controlled the drugs in the baggie. After all, your two passengers had just as much opportunity as you to place the baggie in your unlocked console. The jury, therefore, cannot reasonably infer that the drugs belonged to you as opposed to one of your passengers.