When representing a client charged with a possessory offense, such as drugs or firearms, criminal defense attorneys often hear that “the stuff (or the weapon) wasn’t on me.” Conviction for a possessory offense does not require that the illegal item be found on the person. Such would mean that weapons or drugs found in a house or car would never lead to charges.
Instead, under the law, in addition to actual possession, an individual can constructively possess an item(s). In order to constitute constructive possession, the Commonwealth must prove that an individual had (1) the power to control the contraband, as well as (2) the intent to control the contraband. Although the law recognizes joint constructive possession, if multiple parties have equal access to contraband, the evidence on constructive possession can lose all persuasiveness.
Police often charge everyone in a house, or in a car, with possession of one weapon or one bag of drugs. The Pittsburgh Criminal Law Group believes that this is an abuse of power. “Constructive possession is a legal fiction, a pragmatic construct to deal with the realities of criminal law enforcement. Constructive possession is an inference arising from a set of facts that possession of the contraband was more likely than not. We have defined constructive possession as conscious dominion. We subsequently defined conscious dominion as the power to control the contraband and the intent to exercise that control. To aid application, we have held that constructive possession may be established by the totality of the circumstances.” Commonwealth v. Brown, 48 A.3d 426, 430 (Pa.Super. 2012).
Constructive possession should be, and often is, hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If charged under the theory of constructive possession, contact the Pittsburgh Criminal Law Group to protect your freedom. Our attorneys have successfully used Preliminary Hearings, Pre-Trial Motions, Trials, and Appeals to defeat constructive possession charges.