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Can I Be Charged With Possession if the Drugs Are Not Mine?

Under Maryland law, one does not actually have to have prohibited items in their hand, or on their person, to be found to have possessed it. Constructive possession is demonstrated when one exerts sufficient dominion and control over an object, so as to be said to possess it, even though they don't actually have it on or about their person. A person who has both the ability and intent to exert control of an item is said to constructively possess it, even if it is not in their actual possession. The Maryland Court of Appeals found that being present in a home that contains contraband, when coupled with other factors, is enough to sustain a conviction for possession of marijuana, even if the Defendant is a guest in that home. In that case, police officers executed a warrant at a home and found the defendant, along with four other people sitting at a table. In the center of the table was an ashtray with a burning blunt in it. Officers also found other zip lock bags of marijuana in that same room, in a coat pocket.

The Defendant did not own the house, and he did not live there. The jacket was not his, and there was no evidence that Smith actually handled the blunt.

The Court of Appeals stated that Smith's proximity to the contraband, obviously marijuana, and the fact that it was in his view and "grab area" supported, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Smith possessed that Marijuana.

      -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 2/5/19

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