Constructive possession in Utah drug cases

Utah prosecutors bring a large number of drug prosecutions every year. Many drug cases involve possession crimes, in which a person is caught with a controlled substance on their body.

One of the least commonly understood facts about drug possession is that a person can be charged with drug possession even when they do not have any drugs on their person.

Under the evidentiary theory of “constructive possession,” a person can be charged with possessing a drug if they have the ability and intent to exercise “dominion and control” over a drug.

This means that it is possible for a Utah resident to be charged with drug possession if drugs are found in a car or in their home, for example.

A constructive possession case typically hinges on whether the prosecution can prove a “sufficient nexus exists” between the defendant and the drug to support the conclusion that the defendant had the power and intent to exercise dominion and control over the drug.

Although determining whether the nexus exists is highly fact-dependent, several factors go into this determination, including:

  • Ownership or occupancy of the residence or car that the drug was found in.
  • How close the defendant was to the drug.
  • Whether the defendant was a known drug user.
  • Incriminating statements or behavior.
  • Whether there were drugs present in the specific area whether the defendant had control.

Just one of these items is insufficient, alone, to convict a person. That is why it is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney about your constructive possession case. An attorney could call enough of these factors into question to prevent a prosecutor from prevailing in a drug case.

The Salt Lake City criminal defense team at Greg Smith & Associates handles drug cases throughout Utah. If you or a loved one is under investigation or has been charged with construction possession of a drug, call us at 801-651-1512 or contact us online.

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