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Definition of ‘possession’ may be broader than you think

The English language is full of phrases whose original meanings have either been lost or changed. A good example is being “caught red-handed.” At one time, it referred to being caught with blood on your hands, either because you had just committed murder or because you had been poaching animals on land that you did not own.

Today, the expression simply means getting caught in the act of committing a crime and in close proximity to the necessary incriminating evidence. Drug possession is an obvious example. But did you know that you can sometimes be charged with drug possession even if the drugs are nowhere near you at the time? This is called “constructive possession.”

In some cases, you can be charged with constructive possession because you are in possession of something that leads back to the drugs (or other illegal contraband). For instance, the drugs may be kept in a lockbox or safe and you have the keys to open it. The same can be said for having the keys to a car or house where drugs are being stored.

In other cases, you may be charged with constructive possession if you own drugs that are in someone else’s possession. If your baggie of marijuana was being held by a friend, you may still face criminal charges if prosecutors can demonstrate that it belongs to you.

Every criminal case is unique, and constructive possession cases tend to be more nuanced than those in which suspects were caught “red-handed.” An experienced criminal defense attorney can examine the details of your case and help you understand your legal rights and options.

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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