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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

What is Constructive Possession?

If you’ve ever been involved in a criminal investigation or arrested for a crime, you might have heard the term “constructive possession.” It often comes up when someone is charged with being in possession of something illegal, but is used to describe an item not being in his or her actual possession.

What does this mean?

Constructive possession is enough to get you convicted of a crime. This is why it’s important to understand what it means and to know whether or not it applies to your situation.

What’s an Example of Constructive Possession?

One of the most common and easy to understand example of constructive possession occurs when you are in possession of access to a container holding the contraband.

For instance, if you have drugs or an illegal gun in a lock box and you’re in possession of the key, it’s understood that you have the exclusive ability to access the contraband.

Legally, you’re guilty of having contraband in your possession if you have exclusive access even if you aren’t holding the item in question. The same is true if you have keys to a house or a vehicle that contains illegal items.

What If Someone Else Has the Item?

The same is true if you ask someone else to hold an illegal item for you. If it can be proven that you gave something illegal to someone else, and that you had control of it at one time, you could still be found guilty of possession.

Don’t think that shoving something into a friend’s pocket or bag will get you off the hook. Even if the illegal item is not found on you, it could still get you into legal trouble.

There are plenty of people who assume that “getting rid of” an item will save them from arrest – or at least from being charged with a crime.

Unfortunately, there are ways law enforcement can prove an item is yours, even if it’s not in your pocket or held in your hands. And by trying to deny ownership of an item, it can raise even more suspicion. Something that might have gone unnoticed becomes an issue if law enforcement sees you trying to hide something or deny ownership of an item.

To view the official legal definition of constructive possession, visit Cornell Law School’s website

If you’ve been accused of being in possession of contraband, or law enforcement is using the concept of constructive possession to build their case against you, you need an attorney. An experienced criminal attorney can review your case and determine the best way for you to proceed. He or she will work to ensure your rights aren’t violated, and either fight to prove your innocence or work to negotiate a deal on your behalf.

For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss the details of your situation, contact Andrew W. Kowalkowski, PLLC at 248.974.9594.

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