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When does a person "possess" a drug?

One thing that can be a central issue in a criminal case involving drug possession charges is whether or not the defendant "possessed" a drug.

In Illinois, one of the things that prosecutors have to prove to show that a person did commit the crime of drug possession is that the person had control of an exclusive and immediate nature of a controlled substance. A prosecutor can meet this requirement by showing that the defendant had one of two types of possession.

The first is called actual possession. A person has actual possession of a drug if the drug is in their present, physical control. As a note, a person does not need to be holding or touching a drug to have present, physical control of it.

The second is called constructive possession. A person has constructive possession of a drug if they have the ability and intent to maintain dominion and control over the drug, even though the drug is not presently in their physical control. One example of this type of possession is that the owner of a home might be deemed to have constructive possession of a drug that is in their home.

There are many different types of evidence that can touch on whether or not a defendant had possession (of either an actual or constructive nature) of a controlled substance. Experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the different evidentiary concerns and issues that can come up when it comes to the possession question and other important questions in drug possession cases, and can help defendants with collecting evidence to build their case and with reviewing the strength and validity of the evidence of the prosecution.

Source: FindLaw, "Illinois Drug Possession Laws," Accessed Oct. 2, 2014

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