September 29, 2012
Innocent Until Proven Guilty by Association: What to Do If Your Roommate Breaks the Law
For folks in college or even into their 30s, finding a roommate you don’t know very well to move in with you and split rent and utilities is pretty much par for the course. But what do you do if your roommate ends up engaging in illegal activity, like drug possession, under your nose — and gets caught doing it by the police?
The Three Types of Possession
It’s important to understand that, by law, there are three types of possession: actual, constructive and joint possession.
Actual possession: This is the easiest to prove and prosecute, as it generally means that drugs were found literally in the defendant’s possession — in a backpack or purse, a pocket, or elsewhere in their clothes.
Constructive possession: This is a little murkier & is defined as being in an area over which a person has “dominion and control,” or the ability and intent to control the drugs found on the premises. This would apply to a home or a car.
Joint possession: This is just what it sounds like — when two or more people have actual or constructive possession of drugs. So, if you’re riding in your roommate’s car and he gets pulled over and drugs are found, you could be charged with joint constructive possession.
How to Avoid or Fight a Possession Charge
If you are charged with possession for drugs your roommate had in his or her room or car, you have a good shot of fighting it because constructive possession is much more difficult to prove. A prosecutor has to prove three things: that you knew the drugs were present, that you know or should have known the drugs were illegal, and that you had “dominion and control” over the drugs. It’s that third item that gives you a lot of power to fight a charge. Just being near the drugs is not enough to prove constructive possession. (On a related note, learn your rights when it comes to searches and seizures.)
Get Legal Help from Dan Miller Law
Our lawyers have significant experience handling cases involving Drug Charges. If you’ve been charged with possession for your roommate’s illegal drugs or paraphernalia, our attorneys at Dan Miller Law can help. In the past few months alone, he they have successfully defended two cases of this type, and they can defend you, too. Call today at 816-875-0470, or use our web submission form to request more information.