In many cases, merely having an item on your person (possessing it) is considered a crime. A lot of times, possession crimes involve the possession of illegal substances, such as drugs, but there are many other offenses that involve possession. For example, it’s illegal to possess a fake ID, to possess alcohol as a minor, and to possess a firearm without a license.
When prosecutors charge a person with a possession crime, they can base the charges on either actual or constructive possession. Understanding the difference between these two types of possession is one of the first steps in taking charge of your criminal defense.
Actual possession is exactly what it sounds like. When the police claim a person had actual possession of something, this means the person purportedly had control of it or had it on his body. Common examples of actual possession include drugs in a person’s pocket, a knife in a sheath strapped to a person’s leg, and a weapon held in a person’s hand. In all of these examples, the individual had care and control of the item.
By contrast, constructive possession is a bit more subtle but just as commonly charged as actual possession. In a constructive possession case, prosecutors allege that the person had an intent to control the item even though it wasn’t on his physical person. For example, if the police find drugs inside a vehicle, they are likely to arrest everyone in the vehicle for constructive possession of a controlled substance.
If you have been arrested for actual or constructive possession, it’s important to understand that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had control – or an intent to control – the item in question. This is the highest burden of proof in our criminal justice system.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows there are multiple ways to attack possession charges. In many cases, prosecutors rely on witness testimony to support their case. This testimony can be challenged by examining the witness’s credibility, through cross-examination, and by introducing witnesses with conflicting testimony. Prosecutors may also introduce physical evidence, which is also vulnerable to defense attack. If you have been charged with a possession crime, it is absolutely critical to work with a criminal defense attorney with years of trial experience. Your freedom depends on it.
Whatever type of criminal charge you’re facing, you don’t have to do it alone. There is no time to lose in your case. Call me at 317-983-5333 for a free consultation.
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