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The Differences Between ‘Simple’ and ‘Constructive’ Drug Possession Charges

Drug possession charges refer to having ownership or controlling an illegal drug. You might not be aware, however, that possession charges may actually be split into two different categories: simple and constructive.

Simple possession

Simple possession refers to a case in which a person knowingly has an illegal drug under his or her physical control. For example, it could be in one’s pocket, inside a purse, or in a backpack.

“Knowingly” is a key point here that criminal defendants often use to fight against possession charges. If, for example, a person was to grab a friend’s gym bag but did not know there were illegal drugs inside, he or she could not be found guilty of simple possession. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show an individual knowingly had possession of the drug.

Constructive possession

Constructive possession is a slightly more complicated concept. Under federal law, this refers to an implied or inferred possession — or any possession as interpreted by the law. If law enforcement officers prove a person has some sort of legal control over a drug, that person is considered to have constructive possession of it, even if he or she does not have actual physical possession of it at that time.

A person could be moving drugs on behalf of their true owner. If they pass them through a security checkpoint and the guard, who is in on the trafficking and allows them through, that guard could be arrested for constructive possession. So could the person who gave the orders to traffic the drug in the first place, if the prosecution is able to prove the individual gave that order and was connected to the trafficking.

If you have been arrested and charged with a drug-related crime, be sure to meet with an experienced La Plata criminal defense attorney at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.

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