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How does "constructive possession" work in drug cases?

In Louisiana, it is illegal for a person to possess certain narcotics and other controlled substances. Being caught in possession of such items, even if one does not own them, can mean a New Orleans resident will face drug charges that could in the worst cases spell a felony conviction and lengthy prison sentence, not to mention steep fines and strict and costly terms of probation.

It is important for New Orleans residents to recognize that, in many if not most cases, police are not going to literally catch someone with drugs on them. When this happens, assuming no one admits to the drug being theirs and theirs alone, police and prosecutors will rely on the doctrine of "constructive possession" in order to secure a conviction.

The idea of constructive possession is that, as with other items, a reasonable person can conclude someone is in "possession" of something based on the overall facts and circumstances. For instance, if drugs are found in a person's bedroom and he or she is the only one who lives in that room, that person is allegedly in constructive possession of the drugs and will face drug possession charges.

The doctrine of constructive possession frequently comes in to play also when drugs are found in a car occupied by several passengers.

The problem with "constructive possession" is that it can lead to a false conviction and, accordingly, an unjust sentence. Many times, Louisiana residents simply are in the presence of drugs, in the wrong place at the wrong time. It does not mean, however, that they are in possession of these drugs and should therefore be arrested for a crime. This is one of many reasons why constructive possession drug cases may require a strong defense.

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