What Does it Mean to Possess Drugs Under the Law
Police will often bring drug possession charges without ever finding drugs on the person of the individual charged, according to criminal defense lawyer Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA. This can result in confusion if you are faced with such a scenario. The obvious initial reaction is how can they charge me with possession of drugs when I never actually physically possessed the drugs?
The answer to that question, however, is not as simple.
Possession under Massachusetts law doesn’t include just what you have in your pockets or in your wallet, but it also includes any item that you have knowledge of coupled with the ability and intent to exercise control over. This means, for example, if you are driving a motor vehicle with a passenger in the front seat, and drugs are found in open view in the center console, an argument can be made that both you and the passenger possessed the drugs.
Often times the police will charge both occupants of the vehicle with possession of the drugs in such circumstances, unless one individual claims ownership of the item(s). Such a charge against both occupants can stand because joint possession of the same item is allowed under Massachusetts law.
While it may not seem fair for the government to proceed against someone on a theory of, “I can’t prove who actually physically possessed the item, so I will charge both because they both probably had knowledge of and some control of the item,” it is important to focus not on the unfairness, but on the strength of the government’s case.
For instance, even though the government has charged you with possession in the constructive sense, there may not be any additional evidence tying you to the drugs beyond your proximity. This is not enough under the law, and as a result you should hire a Worcester Criminal Lawyer who will fight for you and who will scrutinize the Commonwealth’s case when they prosecute based on assumptions.
For more information, contact criminal defense lawyer Shane Surrette at the link below: