Many Texas residents might not be aware that sometimes law enforcement can arrest and charge someone with drug possession even though the person does not actually possess illicit substances. This is known as constructive possession, and while it does not require a person to possess the drugs on the spot, it does make it a crime for a person to have knowledge of the drugs and retain control over them.

FindLaw explains how constructive possession works. An individual, though not carrying the drugs on his or her person, has stashed the drugs somewhere, such as in a safe, a lockbox, or a locked room. The person knows where the drugs are and possesses a key or other means of access to retrieve the drugs at a later time. However, constructive possession treats the person in this scenario just as if the person actually possessed the drugs.

Law enforcement may also apply constructive possession to people who try to hand off drugs to another person. In this situation, a friend may hold the drugs, but the original owner can still come over to the friend’s house and access the drugs whenever is convenient. Basically, handing the drugs over to a friend does not absolve the original owner of illegal drug possession if the original owner has control over the illegal substances and plans to use them.

Constructive possession is meant to make sure owners of illegal drugs do not get off the hook through concealing their illicit goods, but it can also ensnare an unsuspecting person who may not know he or she possessed or handed off illegal drugs. It is important to consult defense counsel if faced with a charge of constructive possession so that you know your rights under state and federal law.

Because drug possession takes many forms, do not read this article as legal advice for your situation. It is only intended for your educational benefit.