A drug offense has the potential to lead to serious consequences, regardless of whether your charge is at the state or federal level. In some cases, authorities may charge you with drug possession even if they did not find you with drugs in your physical possession. Known as “constructive possession” charges, these drug charges may lead to jail or prison time, steep fines and other serious penalties.
What determines whether authorities might charge you with physical, or actual, possession, or constructive possession?
Physical possession charges
You may receive a charge for physical possession, or actual possession, if authorities find drugs directly on your person, such as in your pocket or in your hand. This type of drug charge also suggests that you, and only you, had access to the illegal substance in question. It also indicates that you have knowledge of, and direct control over, the substance.
Constructive possession charges
You may receive a charge for constructive drug possession if authorities find substances, but their exact ownership is unclear. For example, if you are traveling in a vehicle a law enforcement officer stops and he or she finds drugs in the trunk, you may face a constructive possession charge – even if the drugs were never yours.
With a physical possession charge, authorities have to show that you had knowledge and ownership of the drug and the ability to control it. This is not necessarily the case when it comes to constructive possession charges. With a constructive possession charge, the strength of the case depends on whether you knowingly had the power and intent to exercise control over a substance.