Can I be convicted for being in possession of marijuana, meth, ecstasy or cocaine even if it belongs to someone else and I do not have physical possession of the drug?

At a first glance, it seems that the common-sense answer should be "No". However, the law is not so much concerned with who owns the drug but with who possesses it. So for example, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony for holding (i.e. possessing) someone else's meth. You can also be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony even if someone else's meth is not physically in your possession. How can that be? A prosecutor can legally obtain a conviction based on the doctrine of "constructive possession". To establish that you had "constructive possession" of the meth, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy or for that matter, any illegal substance, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly exercised a right to control the drug either directly or through another person. For example, your friend bought meth for his personal use but intends to share a portion of it with you. You agree. You're the passenger in his car and the baggie of meth is in his backpack. You know the meth is there because he told you and you opened the backpack and saw the baggie. The car is stopped by the police and after a search, the meth is discovered. The police officer questions both of you. Your friend does not want to get arrested, so he tells the officer that the meth is yours.

In this simple scenario, even if the meth is owned and possessed by your friend (because he bought it and it's in his backpack), you also have "constructive possession" of the meth because you knew it was there and you had access to it. Both you and your friend can legally be convicted of the crime of possession of a controlled substance in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11377(a) or 11350(a).

If you have been charged with possession of meth, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy or any controlled substance in Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Wildomar, Hemet, Corona, Perris, Banning or Riverside, you need the assistance of an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney. Call my office immediately to schedule a free consultation directly with me.

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