Constructive Possession in a Marijuana Case
July 5th, 2022
Constructive possession of a controlled substance refers to a situation in which a person is alleged to be in possession of a controlled substance, even though the substance is not physically in their control or located on their body.
Allegations of constructive possession are common in drug cases, especially those involving the alleged possession of marijuana. You may have been charged with constructive possession of a controlled substance if drugs were found close to you or in a place that you have access to or control over.
What Is Constructive Possession of a Controlled Substance?
Many people in Wyoming face drug possession charges under a theory of constructive possession. But fortunately for the accused, these cases present interesting legal issues that make the case more difficult for the prosecution to prove.
A common drug possession situation occurs when a defendant is stopped for a traffic violation, there are other people in the car, and the police suspect there is marijuana or another drug in the vehicle. The police search the vehicle, and, if they find marijuana, drug paraphernalia, or other controlled substances, they charge all of the occupants with drug possession.
Similarly, if the police search a house or apartment and find drugs or other controlled substances, they often charge all of the occupants of the house or apartment with drug possession.
In cases where the controlled substance was not actually found on the body of the defendant, anyone charged with drug possession will be charged under a theory of constructive possession. In essence, the police are saying that anyone who was in the vehicle or the residence was in possession of the controlled substances by virtue of the fact that they had access to and control over the drugs.
Constructive Possession Requires “Power and Intent”
Wyoming law makes it a felony “for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess…a controlled substance.”
To convict a person of possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant: (1) exercised dominion and control over the substance; (2) had knowledge of its presence; and (3) had knowledge that the substance was a controlled substance. In Regan v. The State of Wyoming, the Wyoming Supreme Court interpreted these requirements to mean that the defendant must have “both the power and the intention” to control the substance.
Your Defense Against Constructive Possession of Marijuana or Other Drugs
Cases involving allegations of constructive possession of a controlled substance can often be won on a well-crafted motion to suppress evidence. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can challenge any or all three elements necessary to prove that the defendant exercised both power and intention to control the controlled substance.
Depending on the specific facts of your case, the criminal defense team at Just Criminal Law can challenge whether you had “dominion and control” over the controlled substance. This defense would apply if the drugs were found in a common room of a shared living space, or if there were multiple occupants in a vehicle.
If you did not know of the presence of the controlled substance, our criminal defense lawyers can challenge the second prong of the test to prove constructive possession.
Finally, to be convicted of possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must prove that you know that the substance in your possession was actually an illegal drug.
Through motions to suppress evidence and cross-examination at trial, our lawyers can demonstrate reasonable doubt as to whether you were in possession of a controlled substance. A showing of reasonable doubt as to any single element of the crime is enough to result in a Not Guilty verdict, and the jury must evaluate the totality of the circumstances when deciding whether you had power and intention to exercise control over the marijuana to the extent that you were in possession of it.
Just Criminal Law Protects Your One Shot at Justice
If you are facing drug possession charges, Just Criminal Law can help. Our lawyers are former prosecutors and have extensive experience handling drug possession cases. Today, we use that experience to defend people who have been accused of drug possession and other crimes throughout eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. Our team has a demonstrated record of success, and we thoroughly investigate and aggressively defend people accused of drug possession.
The penalties for a drug possession conviction are severe, and you must take the charges seriously. Take control of your situation and give yourself the best chance of success by hiring the criminal defense team at Just Criminal Law. We will analyze your situation, answer your questions, fight to protect your rights, and, if necessary, vigorously defend you at trial.
To learn more about how we can help, contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.