Constructive possession doctrine might trap the unwary

Many people in Stillwater and Ponca City probably have friends or even relatives who do drugs from time to time. Even though this behavior may be illegal, it's understandable why people may still choose to hang around the people they like, even if they choose to get high.

However, those who choose to be around drugs, even if they don't intend to use them, take a significant legal risk about which they should be aware. Specifically, police Oklahoma are allowed to arrest people, and prosecutors are allowed to charge people, based on a theory of what is called constructive possession.

The doctrine of constructive possession, from the police's perspective, is necessary because people rarely claim ownership of narcotics when police find them, and it can also be difficult to catch people red-handed with drugs on their person or so close that the drugs are obviously theirs.

The doctrine allows police to assume a person possesses narcotics if the overall circumstances suggest they have access to them. For example, a person who is living in an apartment with a friend who uses may be held legally accountable if police find drugs in a common area like the living room, unless of course the person can show that the drugs are not theirs.

What this means in practice is that a law-abiding Oklahoman who simply has friends who make different choices can wind up facing unfair drug charges based on the doctrine of constructive possession. In such cases, it would be almost imperative for a person to mount an assertive criminal defense to his or her charges.

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