You’ve probably heard stories about young Americans rotting away in a foreign jail after the police found drugs in their suitcase or rental car that they swear they knew nothing about. It can happen. People sometimes use others to transport drugs for them unknowingly.
What you might not realize is it happens here too. What is worse, even if the police believe you when you say the drugs are not yours, they can still charge you.
What is constructive possession?
Constructive possession is a law that allows courts to convict someone for possession of drugs found in their control. Police and prosecutors can use it when they are unable to pinpoint who the drugs belonged to as a way to pressure you into telling them. Or they can use it when they believe the drugs were yours but cannot prove it.
For example, the police stop you and find drugs in your car. It could be a small amount in the glovebox or a large amount in the trunk. As it’s your car, they take advantage of this law to suggest that you must have known.
How can you defend against a constructive possession charge?
If you know or suspect who the drugs belong to, you could, of course, name them. Yet, it is not always that easy. You might have given a lift to several people during the last week. Or perhaps the only other person that traveled in your car was your child, and the last thing you want is for them to get in trouble for a drugs offense.
Often your best defense may be to argue you did not know the drugs were there. It then comes down to the court to decide whether they believe you. If the court agrees that you did not know about the drugs, they cannot convict you under constructive possession laws.