Actual vs Constructive Possession: Drug Possession Charges in Illinois
If you have ever watched a television show about crime such as Law & Order or COPS, you have probably heard many of the typical claims a suspect makes when he or she is found to be in possession of illegal drugs. He or she might say “Those aren’t mine!” or “These are my friend’s!” or “Someone must have left these in my car.” In many cases, such excuses are little more than an attempt to avoid a drug possession charge . Sometimes, however, they are true. What happens if a passenger in a your vehicle brings drugs into your car and you are pulled over? It depends on the individual circumstances but in Illinois, where the drugs are found often determines what type of drug possession an individual can be charged with.
The Difference Between Actual and Constructive Drug Possession
There are two different types of drug possession in Illinois : actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is what most people think of as drug possession. It refers to an individual who is in physical possession of an illegal substance. He or she may be holding the item in his or her hand or carrying it in a pocket or purse. Actual possession also refers to an individual who attempts to dispose of drugs while being pulled over or questioned by police—by throwing them out the window of a car for instance. If a passenger in your vehicle is found to be in actual possession of drugs, you are less likely to be held responsible.
Constructive possession , by comparison, refers to a circumstance in which a person does not have drugs physically on them but drugs are found in a house or car. Constructive possession means a person has “intent and capability to maintain control and dominion over” the drugs. For example, a person might have drugs stored in the glove compartment of his or car car or hidden under a seat. A driver who has drugs stored in their car is not in actual possession of the drugs but can still be charged with having constructive possession. Charges for constructive possession can be filed against anyone in the vehicle, although the owner of the vehicle is at the highest risk.
Let Us Help
If you have been arrested on a drug possession charge because a friend or acquaintance brought an illegal substance into your house or car, prosecutors must be able to prove that you were aware of the presence of the drugs. This is where the help an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney becomes extremely valuable. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who understands the elements necessary for state to secure a conviction, and he is ready to put that knowledge to work on your behalf. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.