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What is constructive possession?

If the police find someone else’s drugs in your house or vehicle, you might think all you have to do is tell them they are not your drugs. Unfortunately, that is not how it works.

Firstly, the police might not believe you when they say they are not your drugs. Secondly, you can still be charged with possession even if you are not the owner. Here is why:

Constructive possession of illegal substances is a criminal offense

There are two types of possession – actual and constructive. Actual means the drugs are yours. Constructive means they are not, but you fulfilled certain criteria:

  • You know where they are: If you never realized your housemate was hiding drugs under the sofa, then you should not be charged.
  • You had control over the drugs: For instance, the drugs are in a safe in your house to which you hold the key. Or they are stashed under the mattress in a room you can access.
  • You knew they were illegal: Let’s say your wayward grandson asked you to tend to his plant while he was away. He brought it around to your house and gave you instructions on how to care for it. What he failed to do was tell you that it was a cannabis plant. The police may assume you knew it was illegal. If you can show you had no idea, then a constructive possession charge should not stand up.

Facing charges related to someone else’s drugs will be challenging. The prosecutors may challenge your version of events or try and push you to name the true owner. Having legal help to understand your rights and defense options will be crucial.