In California, law enforcement can charge two or more people with joint possession of drugs. However, without a legal understanding of what qualifies as “joint possession,” the concept may be vague to nonlegal individuals.
So, what constitutes joint possession for a charge to hold?
Is actual possession essential?
No, two or more people can face joint possession charges even if they do not have actual physical control over the drug. This means that even if the illegal substance is not immediately available to one or any of the accused, law enforcement can still charge them with joint and constructive possession.
How about ownership?
Two or more people who purchase a controlled substance, therefore jointly owning it, can face joint possession charges. However, ownership is not essential for a joint possession charge to hold. Instead, there must either be direct or indirect control, the right to control or the knowledge of the drug’s existence.
Direct control means the accused has immediate access to the drug, such as in their house or car. On the other hand, indirect control is having access, though not immediate, such as having someone else temporarily keep the controlled substance.
A person who has access to and knowledge of the illegal drug’s existence, despite not using or having no intent to use it, can also be charged with joint possession together with the person they are with.
Understanding consequences and your next move
Possession of a controlled substance has serious legal consequences. Not only can you face fines and prison time if convicted, but it can also affect your employment and housing opportunities, custody chances and similar pleas.
Hence, it is crucial that you work on a solid defense strategy with your criminal defense attorney and continue exploring options that would help fight charges against you.