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Can you be charged with possession by association?

Posted by William Walraven | Jun 21, 2022 | 0 Comments

There's an old saying that “one bad apple spoils the batch.” In other words, you should always be careful who your friends are. If you know someone who happens to use drugs — even if it's unknown to you — you could be charged with possession just by being around them. 

Here's what everybody should know about constructive possession charges:

Constructive possession can put you in jail

The most common form of possession is “actual possession.” This is when a substance is found on someone's body. If your friend was caught with a drug stashed in his pockets then they would probably be charged with actual possession.

That makes sense, right? Well, what if you live with your friend who uses drugs and those drugs are just found in the kitchen cookie jar where you both cook your meals. You could be charged with “constructive possession.” 

Constructive possession charges occur if a substance is found within your “domain and control” If your friend stashes their drugs in a place that is accessible in your home, car or luggage – someplace you can access — then you could be accused of possession. 

In essence, the police figure that since they can't definitively say who owns the drugs, they will declare you both the presumptive owners – and that's legal for them to do. Your friend's drug use or sales could put you at risk of punishable crimes by proxy of your interactions with them. Depending on how much and what type of substance was found, you could go from small fines to incarceration. A possession charge can make it harder, if not impossible, to find jobs, find apartments, apply for student aid or apply for child custody.

You shouldn't have to have your life dragged down because someone you know put your image in danger. You may need to seek experienced legal guidance that can defend against a possession charge.

About the Author

William Walraven

Education Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, California Juris Doctor - 2008 University of California at Los Angeles B.A. - 2000 Major: Psychology Past Positions McGrane LLP, Associate Attorney Trepel, Greenfield, Sullivan and Draa LLP, Associate Attor...


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