How 'constructive possession' lands people in trouble

Many people who live in Gwinnett County recognize that actually having a controlled substance on their person without having a valid prescription for it can land a person in court and facing drug charges. Some people, particularly younger people who like to attend parties where drugs get used, might get caught off guard by the concept that police in Georgia can also arrest someone and ask for charges based on the "constructive possession" of drugs.

"Constructive possession" is a legal concept, which Georgia law recognizes, that allows police and prosecutors to charge a person with possession of an illegal drug or drug paraphernalia even if the drug is not actually on the suspect herself. The idea behind the concept is that police often find drugs near someone but not actually in their "possession" in the strict sense of the term. Moreover, there is often some dispute as to whom an illegal substance actually belongs.

Under the doctrine of constructive possession, the state can assume a drug belongs to a person if he or she has some connection to the drug other than simply being close to it. In other words, if the police find drugs in a car, and that car is registered to the suspect, then the police may have a constructive possession case.

On the other hand, the fact drugs are found in someone's house or car does not end the matter, especially If someone else could have had access to the drugs at the same time. For instance, a suspect may be able to show that a passenger was sitting close to the drugs in question as well.

Cases of constructive possession can be defended against at trial. Although this does not mean that a trial is right for every person, someone dealing with a constructive possession drug case should consider consulting with a defense attorney to evaluate their legal options.

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