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What is constructive possession of a drug?

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2023 | Drug Charges |

Despite more lenient drug statutes in California than there are in many other states, people still get arrested for drug crimes every day. Many people face accusations of drug possession because they had drugs on their person, in their home or in their vehicle. While drug possession may be the least severe type of drug offense, a conviction could still lead to major penalties and a criminal record that permanently holds someone back from pursuing their best life.

Sometimes, police officers find drugs in someone’s purse or pockets. In such cases, the connection between the individual and the drugs is often quite clear. Other times, police officers find drugs near an individual and then charge them with a crime. Those individuals may face accusations of constructive possession.

What constitutes constructive possession?

To convict someone for a drug offense because there were drugs near them, the state has to show two things. Claims of constructive possession are often a key aspect of a drug possession case. Prosecutors generally try to convince the courts that someone knew the drugs were there and had control over them.

If there was a vial of prescription drugs in someone’s glove box, for example, that could lead to allegations of constructive possession. Constructive possession carries all of the same penalties as actual physical possession of drugs.

The location of the drugs and the circumstances when police found them can influence what defense options someone has. There could be a reasonable explanation for who actually owned those drugs or how they ended up in someone’s home or vehicle, like regularly carpooling with co-workers. Undermining claims of constructive possession can sometimes help people avoid a criminal conviction when facing California drug charges.