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What is Possession?


Stephen Shepard

Stephen Shepard is the Principal Attorney and Counselor at Law at The Law Office of Stephen P. Shepard, LLC in Towson, MD.

A person has criminal possession of something if he or she consciously had the item on his or her person or took the item into his or her control. A key aspect of criminal possession is that the person must exert a restraining or directive influence over the item. There are two types of criminal possession: Actual and constructive. Each type of criminal possession is discussed further below. Criminal possession can relate to drugs or controlled dangerous substances, drug paraphernalia, pornography, burglar’s tools, weapons, property, or other contraband items.

Actual Possession

A person has actual or direct possession of an item when the item is within the person’s immediate control or area of influence (sometimes referred to as a person’s wingspan). For example, a person who is found with a controlled dangerous substance in his or her pocket would be considered to have actual or direct possession of that substance because it is assumed that a person has immediate control over and knowledge about what is in his or her pocket.

Constructive Possession

Constructive or indirect possession, on the other hand, does not require that person have the item within his or her immediate control or area of influence. A person constructively possesses something if he or she exercised a restraining or directing influence over the item. In other words, a person has indirect possession of an item if he or she took it into his or her control or held it at his or her disposal but not on his or her person. If the person did not actually possess the item, but knowingly had both the power and intent to exercise control over it, then it can be argued that he or she constructively possessed the item.

Baltimore County, MD Criminal Defense Attorney

Possessing any contraband item is a serious criminal charge that likely carries the possibility of active incarceration and/or a substantial fine. Contact our office today for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a criminal possession offense. During your free consultation, our principal attorney will discuss the facts of your case with you, possible defenses, and ways to avoid a conviction or minimize the possible consequences of a conviction.

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