How can I be charged with possession of drugs or paraphernalia when nothing was found on me and there is no proof that it belongs to me?

Pennsylvania Misdemeanor Drug Possession Lawyer

Under Pennsylvania law, there are two types of possession, actual and constructive. Actual possession is when something is found on a person, such as a wallet being found in a person's pocket. Constructive possession means that a person was aware of the existence of an item and had the ability to exercise dominion or control over that item. As an example of constructive possession that routinely happens in a State College apartment or in a Penn State University dorm room, assume law enforcement obtain lawful entry into the apartment or dorm room and find numerous individuals sitting around a desk or table upon which drugs or related paraphernalia are sitting in plain view. By being in plain view, it can be argued that persons in the room were aware of the presence of the drugs and paraphernalia and thereby could have exercised control over the drugs at any point. In order to prove the element of possession in a drug or paraphernalia case, the police and prosecuting attorney are not required to present any evidence that the person had the intent to possess the contraband but instead only must show that the person could have possessed.

Possession does not require proof of ownership

In this hypothetical situation, the police often question the persons present to see if they can identify the owner of the drugs so that the police can charge that individual with drug possession. If no person is willing to voluntarily claim ownership of the drugs or no person is willing to provide information to the police as to the identity of the owner, then the police often charge the tenants or residents, but there are times that the police charge everyone that was present in the vicinity of the location of the drugs. The police strategy is to put pressure on all those charged to cooperate with the police and disclose the identity of the owner of the drugs. While the charge of possession does not require proof of ownership, the police often are willing to charge only the owner of the drugs if that person can be identified.

Free Initial Consultation - State College Criminal Defense Law Firm

Please do not hesitate to call my law firm, located just a block from the University Park Campus of Penn State, for a free initial consultation. Misdemeanor drug possession charges should not be taken lightly and an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help. You may email me or call my office today at 814-954-1094 or 814-954-1094 or email us.