Constructive Possession Drug Charges in North Carolina

Policeman putting a handcuffs on criminal's hands concept

Drug possession charges are serious. You could be facing time in jail, fines, a lengthy probation period, and a permanent criminal record. One of the best way to avoid drug possession charges is to never consent to a police search.

Constructive Possession vs. Actual Possession

Cases of drug possession come down to whether you were in possession of an illegal substance. Regardless of the type of drug you are accused of having possessed, there are two basic types of drug possession cases in North Carolina.

  • Actual possession occurs when the police find you with drugs on your person.
  • Cases of constructive possession occur when drugs are found close to you, or anywhere that you can easily access or have control over. For example, if police enter your living room and find drugs on the table, that would be a case of constructive possession.

Many people face drug possession charges on a theory of constructive possession. Fortunately for the accused, cases of constructive possession present interesting legal issues and are more difficult for the prosecutor to prove. In the hands of a skilled and creative defense attorney, this means you may have additional legal defenses available that can result in a Not Guilty verdict or a plea to a lesser offense.

As in any criminal case, the prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In cases alleging constructive possession of illegal drugs, a criminal defense attorney can raise technical procedural issues via a motion to suppress evidence. A lawyer can also argue the facts of the case at trial and show reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant had knowledge of the drugs or exercised control over them.

North Carolina’s Definition of Constructive Possession

According to North Carolina case law, a person can be “in constructive possession of a thing, when, while not having actual possession, he has the intent and capability to maintain control and dominion over that thing.”

In a drug possession trial, the jury will receive the following instruction on constructive possession:

A person has constructive possession of [a drug] if the person does not have it on the person but is aware of its presence, and has (either alone or with others), both the power and intent to control its disposition or use. A person's awareness of the presence of the [drug] and the person's power and intent to control its disposition or use may be shown by direct evidence or may be inferred from the circumstances.

In cases of constructive possession of illegal drugs, this means the drugs were not found on your person but were found in your vicinity or in a place that you had access to, or in a place where multiple people had knowledge of and access to the drugs.

Defending Against Charges of Constructive Possession of Illegal Drugs

Because of the nature of a charge of constructive possession of illegal drugs, these cases can be won on the basis of a well-crafted motion to suppress evidence. A lawyer can also successfully argue to a jury by challenging the state’s ability to prove that the drugs in question were under the control of the accused such that they can be said to have “possessed” them.

Many prosecutors will try to prove that you had constructive possession of illegal drugs because the drugs were found in your house, apartment, or vehicle. But if you share your house or apartment with someone else, or if there were multiple people in your vehicle, your lawyer can argue that there is a reasonable question as to whether the drugs were yours.

A skilled criminal defense attorney can demonstrate reasonable doubt as to whether a person was in constructive possession of the drugs. A showing of reasonable doubt is enough to result in a Not Guilty verdict, as the jury must consider the totality of the circumstances in deciding whether the defendant had knowledge of the presence of the drugs and whether they had the ability to exercise control over them.

Because of the potential difficulty in proving a constructive possession case, many prosecutors are willing to negotiate on a case of constructive possession of drugs and may accept a plea to a misdemeanor on a felony indictment.

The Stowe Law Firm: Serious Representation for Serious Criminal Charges

If you are facing drug possession charges in North Carolina, the Stowe Law Firm, PLLC, can help.

Attorney Ryan Stowe will analyze your situation, provide legal advice, and explain the potential consequences of the decisions you make and how they might affect the outcome of your case. He will also provide an objective assessment of your situation and help you evaluate your options. Ultimately, he will be your advocate and will fight to have the charges dismissed, negotiate a favorable plea, and, if necessary, vigorously defend you at trial.

Ryan conducts an independent investigation of every case he takes on. He will design a defense strategy based on the unique circumstances of your case and will work to increase your chances of a successful result.

Mr. Stowe has extensive experience defending people who have been accused of drugs crimes in North Carolina. He is a firm believer in the presumption of innocence, the right to a trial by jury, and the right to a lawyer. He zealously and staunchly defends his clients’ rights.

The Stowe Law Firm proudly represents people who have been accused of crimes in and around Salisbury, North Carolina, and throughout Rowan County, Cabarrus County, Mecklenburg County, and the surrounding areas.

To learn more about Ryan Stowe and the cases he handles, contact the Stowe Law Firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.