Can I Be Charged with a Marijuana Crime If Someone Else in the Car Has Drugs?
The scenario is becoming more common in North Carolina as marijuana is decriminalized around the U.S. and becomes readily available: you’re out with other people and get pulled over by police, who search and find out someone else in the car has drugs. The original reason officers stopped you was relatively minor – perhaps for a broken tail light, running a stop sign, or another routine traffic issue. Now, however, you could be facing marijuana-related charges.
You can expect law enforcement and prosecutors to aggressively pursue drug offenders, even when you’re not the one violating the law. Fortunately, you have rights, and you can trust the Charlotte marijuana defense attorneys at Randall & Stump, PLLC to help. To schedule a free and confidential case consultation, contact us today at (980) 237-4579.
Actual vs. Constructive Possession of Marijuana
Determining whether you actually or constructively possessed marijuana depends on the circumstances of your case. Generally, the most definitive test will involve actual possession. If you have marijuana in your pocket, a purse, tucked into your pants, or otherwise on your person, you can expect to be arrested for a crime. The same is true if police detect marijuana smoke during an encounter.
If someone else in the car has drugs, the issue of constructive possession comes into play. This test is much more fluid and looks to the surrounding facts. Marijuana isn’t on your person. The focus will be on whether you have some degree of control over the drug. The judge or jury will review multiple factors, such as:
- You’re the owner of the car.
- You were driving someone else’s car.
- The person who had the drugs was in actual or constructive possession, such as having marijuana in a suitcase in the trunk.
- The marijuana was in a place in the car where you have limited access, like the glove box, center console, or back seat.
From this description, you can see that it’s possible to be arrested for marijuana possession, even if someone else in the car has drugs. You may not even know that any controlled substance is in the car, but you’re associated with having knowledge of the drugs.
Defenses and Other Legal Options
It’s possible to defend against charges of constructive possession by contesting the facts or overcoming the assumptions of police. A knowledgeable Charlotte criminal defense attorney can present evidence showing that the marijuana was firmly under the control of someone else, negating the notion that you exercised some control over the drugs.
In addition, you may have a defense based on law enforcement’s investigation that led to the discovery of the marijuana The U.S. and North Carolina constitutions protect you against unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement. Any violations of your rights could lead to evidence getting tossed out of court, ultimately resulting in a dismissal of the charges, or an acquittal.
North Carolina has a program for conditional discharge for qualifying first-time offenders facing drug charges. If you’re eligible and comply with the terms of the program, the arrest will not become part of your permanent record. Typically, the conditions involve taking substance abuse and awareness classes, and other requirements based upon your circumstances.
Contact a Charlotte Marijuana Defense Lawyer for Help
You could face serious charges after an arrest for marijuana, even when someone else in the car had the drugs. An arrest doesn’t mean you’re guilty, so call the Charlotte criminal defense lawyers from Randall & Stump, PLLC to learn more about your defense options. You can schedule a free and confidential consultation of your case by calling us at (980) 237-4579, or by reaching out via our online contact form.