When drug possession is not actually possession – but is still a crime

| Apr 29, 2020 | Blog, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

It seems simple enough that if someone has a controlled substance in their pockets, in their car or inside their house, they are committing the crime of drug possession. But what if the police arrest you on drug possession charges when you do not have any drugs in your possession. How is this possible?

Believe it or not, you can be charged with possession or possession with intent to distribute when there are no drugs anywhere yourself, your vehicle or your home. This is thanks to a legal concept called “constructive possession.” If you are charged with constructive possession of drugs, you need to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.

Possession Vs. Constructive Possession

Under Tennessee criminal law, there are two types of possession. The first is actual possession, meaning having the drugs in your presence or direct physical control.

Then there is constructive possession. Unlike actual possession, you do not have to be in physical possession of a controlled substance to be considered to constructively possess it. Instead, the prosecutor has to prove that you knowingly had access to and control over the substance. For example, someone with the keys to a car with drugs in the trunk could be said to have constructive possession of the substance.

Proving constructive possession can be trickier than when the defendant was allegedly caught with drugs in their direct possession. In the example above, how can it be proven that the defendant knew what was in the trunk? What if he was borrowing the car from a friend? Or what if he was getting a ride and was one of four people in the car whom the police arrested?

Take Immediate Steps To Defend Yourself

Still, a drug charge based on alleged constructive possession must be taken seriously. Tennessee strictly punishes drug offenses, especially trafficking. Without a proper legal defense, you could find yourself overcharged, if not falsely accused, and having to serve a long prison sentence for something you did not do.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, you owe it to yourself and your family to consult an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible.