Can a passenger receive a drug possession charge?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Drug possession charges can be a confusing and concerning legal issue. One question that often arises is whether a passenger in a vehicle can receive a drug possession charge.

The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. There are several factors to consider when determining whether a passenger can receive a drug possession charge.

Physical possession

When it comes to drug possession charges, the key factor that determines culpability is physical possession. In simple terms, if the drugs are on your person, you are like to receive a drug possession charge. However, passengers may find themselves in a gray area. If the drugs are in the vehicle but not on the passenger’s person, it can be challenging to prove that the passenger had actual physical possession of the drugs.

Constructive possession

Constructive possession is a legal concept that comes into play in situations where the drugs are not on the passenger’s person but are still within their reach. If the drugs are within an area that the passenger has access to, such as a bag or a compartment, they may still get a possession charge.

Joint possession

In some cases, multiple individuals may be in the vehicle, and the drugs are in a shared area. In such situations, passengers could potentially face joint possession charges.

Defending against drug possession charges

Passengers who find themselves facing drug possession charges may have legal defenses available. If the drugs were not in plain view, for example, passengers may argue that they had no knowledge of their presence. Proving knowledge and intent can be a significant challenge for the prosecution.

Indiana State Police reportedly made 17 drug arrests during weekend patrols around the greater Fort Wayne region in September 2023 alone. This illustrates the strictness the state places on drug crimes and also the importance of understanding your own rights.