With housing costs spiraling, you can’t afford to be picky about your roommates – so you turned a blind eye to some of their more questionable activities. You suspected that they were dealing drugs, but you figured you had “plausible deniability” as long as you didn’t ask any questions.
Unfortunately, that’s not always things work. Under the law, the authorities are allowed to charge anybody who had “constructive possession” of drugs with whatever crime is applicable, including possession with the intent to distribute.
In practical terms, what does that mean?
If one of your roommate’s customers decides to become a police informant and the authorities can justify a warrant, where they find those drugs could be much more important than what you claim you knew about them.
Constructive possession means that you may not have had the drugs actually on you when the police found them, but there’s reason to believe that:
- You knew there were drugs present
- You had access and control over them
For example, if you and your roommate share a bathroom and the drugs are found taped up in plastic under the lid of the toilet tank, there’s really no way for the police to prove which of you put them there. However, since you both had access to the space, it’s reasonable enough to assume that you both knew about the drugs and could exercise control over them.
The police are less likely to make this assumption if, in contrast, the drugs are found in a locked box under your roommate’s bed in their private room – but even that may not be guaranteed to save you.
Constructive possession of drugs is a tricky charge to handle. Don’t try to talk or argue your way out of the situation. Exercise your right to remain silent until you can fully explore your defense options.