You’ve been fast friends with your buddy for a long time. Maybe you even share an apartment, work together or share your daily commute. To date, your buddy’s drug habit has never alarmed you, and you don’t think much about it until the police come calling.

Suddenly, even though you aren’t using any drugs yourself, you’re charged with “constructive possession” of the drugs that were found. What just happened?

A little thing called “constructive possession” gives the prosecutor an advantage

Actual physician possession of drugs isn’t required for the police to charge you. In New Jersey, constructive possession, which means the police believe you somehow have knowledge and control of the drugs, is treated just the same. 

How does this work? Here are some examples:

  • Your friend likes to smoke marijuana on his way home from work, so he tucks a joint beside the passenger seat. You aren’t even aware it’s there until the police officer spots it during a routine traffic stop. It’s your car, however, so the officer assumes you are equally responsible for the drugs. You get charged with possession.
  • Your buddy starts dealing a little weed to cover the cost of his own habit. You weren’t even aware he was doing it, but you did know he kept his stash in the cookie jar in the kitchen. Since that’s a common area in the place you share, the police charge you for possession and dealing, too.

Constructive possession charges won’t go away if you try to explain to the police that those really weren’t your drugs. If you’ve been charged, it’s time to find out what sort of legal defenses are actually available.