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Understanding constructive possession charges in Indiana

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | Drug Crime Defense

How can you be in possession of something without actually possessing it? This is not the beginning of a clever riddle. Instead, it is an important question at the center of many Indiana drug cases.

Nearly every state, including Indiana, recognizes two types of simple drug possession charges (those that don’t involve intent to manufacture or deliver). They include actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is very straightforward: The drugs were discovered on your person, such as in your pocket or hidden in your sock. Constructive possession, however, is more complex.

What constructive possession means

When prosecutors charge you with constructive possession, it is typically because police discovered drugs somewhere other than on your person. Prosecutors will allege that you had control over the location where the drugs were found, that you knew they were there and that you had the ability and intention to access them.

Constructive possession might involve drugs discovered in your vehicle (glovebox or trunk), your home or some other property or location you had control over.

These cases are often more difficult to prove

If you’ve been charged with constructive possession, the good news is that prosecutors will have to work harder to secure a conviction because they need to prove guilt based on a collection of circumstantial evidence. This leaves more room for your defense attorney to challenge the evidence and weaken the prosecution’s case.

Consider a scenario in which drugs were discovered in the trunk of your car. Your defense attorney could explore questions like the following:

  • Did anyone else share the car with you or have access to your keys?
  • Did you leave the vehicle unlocked when you weren’t using it?
  • If the vehicle was left unlocked, could the trunk be opened without possessing the keys?
  • Is it possible that you didn’t know the drugs were there because they were buried under other items in the trunk?
  • Have you owned the car for a long time, or did you recently acquire it as a used vehicle?

Based on the answers to these types of questions, you could weaken the prosecution’s case by introducing the possibility that someone else placed the drugs in your vehicle and you had no knowledge of them.

With any charges related to drug possession, your defense options and your defense strategy will depend on the facts of the case and the evidence police have obtained. It is wise to consult an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.