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How do actual and constructive drug possession differ?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2024 | Drug Charges

Drug possession is a serious crime. In Maryland, drug possession is a misdemeanor that can cause those convicted to face four years of prison and $25,000 in fines. These punishments may depend on the kind of drug possessed, the amount of the drug and the defendant’s criminal record. However, people often confuse actual drug possession with constructive drug possession. The difference between these two terms can make a large difference in a criminal trial.

People facing drug possession charges may need to know the difference between the two terms so that they can create a strong legal defense.

Actual possession

Actual drug possession is fairly straightforward; someone who is caught with illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin or LSD on their person, or under their direct control, such as in their car or desk. It’s clear that the drugs were theirs

Constructive possession

Constructive drug possession could come into play when the police believe more than one person had control over the drugs.

For example, person A stashes the drugs in person B’s house. When the police search person A, they find no drugs. When they search person B’s house and find the drugs, person B claims the drugs are not theirs and they were just looking after them for a friend.

In this case, both could be deemed to have had constructive possession. They both had some control over the drugs. However, if person B can show they had no idea their friend was storing drugs in their house then the charge should not apply to them.

Whether a defendant is facing actual or constructive drug possession can have large implications on a legal trial. It’s important for people to reach out for legal help as they explore their legal defense options.