What’s constructive possession?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Drug Charges

You know that if you’re caught with drugs, firearms or other illegal items in your hands or on your person, you’re going to face possession charges – but what does it mean when you’re charged with “constructive” possession of something illegal?

A constructive possession charge can be a little harder for people to wrap their minds around, precisely because it seems to exploit a certain vagueness in the law. 

You don’t have to be “holding” to be charged

It doesn’t matter if the drugs or weapons are in your hands or across the room for a constructive possession charge to stick. The key thing that the prosecution has to show is that you had the knowledge and ability to exert control over the contraband. 

This is typically done through circumstantial evidence. For example:

  • You’re the passenger in a vehicle that gets pulled over for a traffic violation. The police notice that you and the driver seem anxious and furtive, and they spot you shuffling things around in the car. One thing leads to another, and the officer discovers an illegal weapon hidden in the glove compartment. Everybody in the car gets charged with constructive possession.
  • You sublet a spare bedroom in your apartment to an acquaintance. The police realize that your roommate is dealing drugs and send an undercover officer to make a purchase. Shortly after, your apartment is raided and the drugs are found hidden under the tank in the shared bathroom, so you’re both arrested and charged because the prosecutor theorizes that you’re both dealing.

Constructive possession charges often feel unfair, and they can be. They can also be challenged in court. Skilled legal guidance can help you assess your options if you’re facing these charges.


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