What is constructive drug possession?

August 4, 2022
What is constructive drug possession?

If you are a Missouri resident charged with drug possession, this is a very serious matter. Depending on which drug and what quantity thereof you are alleged to have possessed, you could face substantial time in jail or prison if convicted. That is why your attorney must defend you as vigorously as possible. Since the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you owned or controlled the drugs in order to convict you, one of your best defenses is that the drugs belonged to someone else.

The burden of proof is always on the prosecution in a criminal trial. Technically, the defense is not required to prove anything, especially an “I didn’t do it” negative. Rather, the defense’s job is to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge and/or jury that you did “do it.” Constructive possession often is exactly the way to do this.

Constructive possession and circumstantial evidence

Per FindLaw, constructive possession is a legal concept whereby the prosecution can use circumstantial evidence to prove that you “owned” the drugs even if law enforcement officers did not find them on your person. Constructive possession requires the jury to infer that you owned them based on the circumstantial evidence.

For instance, suppose the officers legally searched your car while you and three passengers were in it. They found the drugs in your locked console. You had the only key. Based on this circumstantial evidence, under constructive possession, the jury can reasonably infer that the drugs belonged to you rather than to one of your passengers since only you controlled their hiding place.

Different circumstantial evidence

Now suppose the same scenario with one exception. Officers found the drugs in your unlocked console. That changes everything. Even though you owned the car and its console, who owned the drugs in it? All four of you had equal access to the console. Any one of you could have placed the drugs in it. Consequently, the jury cannot infer beyond a reasonable doubt that you “owned” the drugs. Thus there is more than sufficient reasonable doubt to acquit you, and that is what the jury must do. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.


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