Laws & Defense Against a Constructive Possession of Drugs Charge

Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2024 at 9:00 am    

Laws & Defense Against a Constructive Possession of Drugs Charge

Constructive possession of drugs in Illinois can have serious consequences. What is constructive possession? You may be surprised to learn you can be found guilty of constructive possession even if you do not technically possess the drugs. For example, many constructive possession cases arise from drugs found in someone’s vehicle or residence.

If you have been charged with constructive possession, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side. At Bruno Law Offices, we offer free consultations so you can speak to a lawyer about your charges in a risk-free, confidential call.  

What Is Constructive Possession of Drugs in Illinois? 

Under Illinois’ Controlled Substances Act, people are prohibited from having a controlled substance in their possession. The Act classifies controlled substances based on their effect on the user. For example, Schedule 1 includes drugs, including ecstasy and marijuana, whereas Schedule 5 lists cough medication and suppressants.

But what is actual possession vs. constructive possession? Actual possession means that drugs are found on your person. Carrying Xanax pills in your pocket means you have actual possession. When drugs are found near a person, such as in their car, house, or even the ground nearby, you can be arrested and convicted for constructive possession. For example, if you keep illegal drugs at your home and know their location, you can be found to be in possession of the drugs even when you are not at home.

Constructive possession occurs when you are not in physical possession of the controlled substance but instead have knowledge of it, the intent to have it, and the ability to maintain control over it or its location.

What Are the Two Elements of Constructive Possession Discussed by the Court?

The two elements of constructive possession are:

  • Exercising “dominion and control” over the drugs
  • Having knowledge of the drugs’ presence with the intent to control the disposition or use of the drugs

To satisfy the first element, you must have the power to control the disposition or use of the controlled substance. The second element means that you must know about the drugs and that you plan to use them or decide how they should be used or disposed of. The prosecutor must prove both elements beyond a reasonable doubt, or the jury must return a not guilty verdict. 

How Much Jail Time for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Illinois?

Punishment for possession of controlled substances in Illinois depends on the type and amount of drugs the person has when they are arrested. Someone in possession of serious drugs, such as morphine, is usually charged with a Class 2 or Class 1 felony because it is a Schedule 2 controlled substance. Someone carrying 15-99 grams of morphine could be sentenced to a minimum of four years in prison or a maximum sentence of fifteen years. However, if they had 100-399 grams, they are subject to sentences ranging from six to thirty years. An amount higher than 900 grams carries a potential punishment of 10-50 years in prison. In addition to incarceration, a defendant convicted of possessing a controlled substance also faces fines of up to $200,000.

What Are the Defenses to Constructive Possession?

Your attorney will analyze the circumstances of your arrest to assess what legal defenses may be available to you. In a constructive possession case, you may be able to assert defenses such as lack of knowledge or intent about the possession of the substance.

How do you prove drugs are not yours? In a constructive possession case where drugs are found at the defendant’s home when they are not present, the prosecutor might argue that the defendant must be guilty because it is their property. However, a criminal defense attorney may offer evidence to prove that the defendant is not the only person with access to the property. As such, the drug may actually belong to someone else who was present on the premises, and the defendant did not know of their presence.

Although the circumstances of every case are different and past results do not guarantee future success, retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney can improve your chances of having constructive possession charges dismissed.

Contact an Urbana Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are searching for how to beat a constructive possession charge, look no further than Bruno Law Offices. We will thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of your case, evaluate your defenses, and protect your legal rights if you are facing a constructive possession charge. Contact us today by phone at (217) 328-6000 or online for a free consultation to learn about how we can help you.