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Can I Be Arrested for Constructive Possession of Drugs in New Jersey?

September 5, 2019

Facing drug charges causes lots of anxiety. As a first-time offender who doesn’t have any experience with the criminal justice system, it is overwhelming. Facing charges for constructive possession can add even more confusion. So, can lawfully be arrested for constructive possession in New Jersey?

Many people who are charged with possession of a controlled substance are charged because they were simply near the drugs. This comes up a lot in the motor vehicle context. For example, being a passenger in a car where drugs are found in the center console. Legally speaking, this is called constructive possession, which allows a law enforcement official to arrest a person for drug possession even if that person did not physically possess the drugs.

We want to provide you with more information about the constructive possession of drugs and the importance of having a New Jersey criminal defense attorney on your side during this process.

What is Constructive Possession in New Jersey?

You might have heard about distinctions between actual and constructive drug possession. If you do not have drugs, how can you be charged with possession of a controlled substance?

The answer to this question concerns constructive possession. This is a situation where you did not have drugs in your possession, but you knew about the presence of drugs and they were in your control.

Constructive Possession is Unlawful Under New Jersey Law

If you constructively possess a drug, you can still be charged with drug possession in New Jersey. The specific charges you face will depend on the type of drug that you possessed. So what is “possession?”

Criminal possession requires “intentional control and dominion.” It also requires the defendant having the ability to physical attend to the item during a span of time. The state must also prove that you generally knew what the substance or item was.  Such possession can be constructive or actual. Physical or manual control of the proscribed item is not required.

But the Drugs Weren’t Mine!

 Possession can be jointly shared by more than one person.  However, constructive possession cannot be based simply by being at the place where drugs or a gun is located.  There must be other circumstances or statements of defendant permitting the inference of defendant’s control of the contraband. 

Examples of Constructive Possession Cases in Which You Could Face Arrest

There are many scenarios where a person may be arrested for constructive possession. The following are some hypothetical examples of scenarios that may require the help of a defense attorney:

  • You own a car and allow your friend to drive the car on occasion. Your friend has been arrested for possession of marijuana. You suspect that your friend sometimes uses your car to buy marijuana. He gets stopped after running a red light, and the police officer finds marijuana in your trunk. You suspect that your friend left the marijuana in the trunk. You did not put the marijuana in the trunk, but because the car belongs to you, you may be charged with constructive possession of marijuana.
  • Mary owns a home, and she rents a room to Lisa, who throws parties and talks about using methamphetamine. Lisa tells Mary that she stores drugs in the bathroom that they share. Mary thinks, “I should flush those down the toilet since it is my house,” but she forgets. Police officers get a search warrant for Lisa’s home, even though Mary owns it. When the police search the house, they find the drugs in the bathroom. Since Mary owns the home and knew about Lisa’s drug use, Mary could face constructive possession charges.
  • Ned buys a small amount of a controlled substance and places it in his wallet. He visits a friend’s house and takes his wallet out of his pocket. Ned then puts his wallet in his friend’s living room and ends up forgetting his wallet at the house. The next day, the police search the house with a lawful warrant and find Ned’s wallet. At first, Ned is relieved that he did not have the wallet during the search. However, Ned is later arrested for constructive possession since the drugs were in his wallet.

Seek Advice from a NJ Drug Defense Lawyer About Constructive Possession Charges

Constructive possession is a confusing concept. The key takeaway is that a person can be arrested for constructive possession of drugs in New Jersey. However, there are defenses that exist.

If you are facing constructive possession charges, speak with a New Jersey drug crimes defense lawyer right away. Your attorney will help you learn more about your possible defenses. 

Our firm has years of experience building defenses for clients facing constructive possession charges. Let’s start working on your case today.

Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio LLC for more information about the services we provide.

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