What Is Constructive Possession?

To people without legal training, the concept of possession may seem simple—either you have something or you don’t. When it comes to criminal law, however, the idea of possession can get complicated—quickly. Certainly, you possess something when you have it in your hand or in your pocket—but what if you have something in the truck of your car? Your home? Your safety deposit box?

This is where the concept of construction possession comes into play. Construction possession is a legal fiction that imputes possession of an item to a person even if it is not under that person’s direct control. For example, if you have contraband in your trunk of your car and police discover it during a traffic stop, chances are that you will find yourself charged with a possession crime.

Proving Constructive Possession

To establish constructive possession, the state must prove that a person knew about the presence of the item in question and exercised dominion or control over it. To decide whether dominion or control existed, Maryland courts will look at:

  • Ownership or control of the property where police discovered the contraband
  • The proximity of the defendant to the contraband
  • Whether evidence exists of mutual distribution or use of the contraband
  • Whether the defendant was in exclusive possession of the location or property where the police discovered the contraband

As this list should make clear, cases involving constructive possession are rarely cut and dry, often giving an experienced defense attorney ample opportunity to make arguments in favor of a client.

To understand what an attorney may do, consider a hypothetical example. Imagine that you are not a marijuana user. You are riding in a car with others when police pull over the driver, discover marijuana, and arrest you. A lawyer may raise on your behalf that you are not a marijuana user (as evidenced by a clean drug test), the car was not yours, and your distance from the drugs that the police found. In many cases, a skilled attorney can raise these issues before trial, which may result in prosecutors entirely dropping a case.

Call Alpert Schreyer Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer

Constructive possession is a complicated legal concept that can have a significant impact on the outcome of a criminal case involving the possession of contraband. At the Alpert Schreyer, LLC, we take the time to fully evaluate the prosecution’s case against you and do everything we can to minimize the legal consequences you are facing. In some cases, we may even get a case against you dismissed in its entirety. To schedule a free initial case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer in Maryland, call Alpert Schreyer today at (866) 444-6363, or fill out our contact form.

About Dianne Freed