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What is constructive possession?

If you are a Connecticut resident facing drug charges, your freedom may be at stake. Depending on what type of drugs law enforcement officers accuse you of possessing when they arrested you, plus the amount thereof and your alleged intent for possessing them, you could face a substantial prison sentence and/or fine if the prosecutor convicts you of the alleged crimes.

Naturally the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed the drugs in order to convict you thereof. This is not difficult to do if the officers found the drugs on your person. If, however, they found them in your home or car where other people had access, the prosecutor’s job becomes considerably more difficult.

Constructive possession

FindLaw explains that a legal doctrine called constructive possession allows the prosecutor in some situations to convict you of drug possession even though officers did not recover them from your person. Under constructive possession, the prosecutor has the opportunity to convince the judge and/or jury that you “owned” the drugs if you controlled them. (S)he attempts to do this based on the circumstantial evidence surrounding your arrest.

Relevant examples

For instance, suppose the officer testifies that (s)he found the drugs in your car’s locked console to which you had the only key. Assuming (s)he conducted a legal search, the judge and/or jury can reasonably infer that you owned the drugs because you controlled their hiding place.

Conversely, suppose the officer testifies that (s)he found the drugs in your car’s unlocked console or hidden underneath or between the seats. That completely changes the circumstances. Now the judge and/or jury has reasonable doubt that you placed the drugs where the officer found them. After all, anyone could have done that. Since the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you, in fact, were the culprit who hid the drugs where the officer found them, the judge and/or jury must acquit you.

This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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