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Can you be convicted of possession if a passenger has drugs?


Can you be convicted of possessing marijuana found in your companion’s pants? In Indiana, the answer is that you can if you make incriminating statements to the police.

Possession of drugs or other illegal contraband may either be actual or constructive. Actual possession occurs when a person has direct physical control over the item. To establish constructive possession, the State must show that the defendant had both the intent and the capability to maintain dominion and control over the contraband. When possession is non-exclusive, the inference of intent to maintain dominion and control over the drugs must be supported by additional circumstances pointing to the defendant’s knowledge of the nature of the controlled substances and their presence. The additional circumstances have been shown by various means, including:

  1. Incriminating statements made by the defendant,
  2. Attempted flight or furtive gestures,
  3. Location of substances like drugs in settings that suggest manufacturing,
  4. Proximity of the contraband to the defendant,
  5. Location of the contraband within the defendant’s plain view, and
  6. The mingling of the contraband and other items owned by the defendant.

In the case of Littrell v. Indiana from Tippecanoe County, Littrell was found guilty of possession of cocaine found in his passenger’s pants after Littrell was pulled over for a traffic stop for speeding. Littrell admitted to the police that he had “shared the baggy” with his passenger, had handled the baggy, and had “used some substance from it.” The Court of Appeals concluded that Littrell clearly had knowledge of the drugs’ location because he told the officers about the cocaine and was therefore in constructive possession of the cocaine.

If you find yourself being questioned for cocaine, marijuana or any other drug possession, exercise your right to remain silent and immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer such as Steven Knecht with Vonderheide & Knecht to help you fight the State.

Filed to Ask a Lawyer, Marijuana & Other Drugs

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