What Is the Difference Between Constructive Possession & Actual Possession?

According to The Free Dictionary's Legal Dictionary, "possession may be actual, adverse, conscious, constructive, exclusive, illegal, joint, legal, physical, sole, superficial, or any one of several other types." In this blog, we will define actual possession and constructive possession and explain the differences between the two types of possession.

What Is Actual Possession?

"Actual possession" is what most people think of when talking about drug possession┬ácharges – meaning that a person has the substance in their physical possession.

Charges of "actual possession" can occur if you are found by police and appear to have direct, physical control over drugs or other illegal substances. Examples of actual possession include having drugs in your hand or in your pocket, or having direct contact and control of the drugs in any way.

What Is Constructive Possession?

"Constructive possession" is more of a theory that is used in cases where a person does not have direct control of a drug or controlled substance. In cases of constructive possession, a person may instead have indirect access to and/or knowledge of the drugs in question.

Constructive possession happens when you do not have physical possession of a drug, but do have:

  • Knowledge of the drug's presence on or around your property.
  • The ability to maintain dominion or control over the illegal substance.

Individuals and groups can both be charged with constructive possession for the same substance. For example, two different people can be charged for the same bag of cocaine if they are living in the same house.

Simply being close to a drug or controlled substance is not enough to warrant a constructive possession charge. You need to have known of its existence and/or had indirect control over it.


Need a drug possession lawyer in Virginia Beach? Contact us online or call (757) 517-2942 now!


How Is “Knowledge” and “Ability to Maintain Dominion & Control” Defined?

Under constructive possession laws, "knowledge" is defined as:

  • Awareness of the substance on or around your property. This awareness can be inferred from incriminating facts or circumstances.
  • Knowing the illegal status of the drug or substance.

A person’s ability to maintain dominion and control can be interpreted differently in each state. Usually, a person will be charged with constructive possession if they knowingly had the power and intention, either directly, indirectly, or through another person, to control the whereabouts of the illegal substance.

Our Drug Possession Attorney Is Ready to Help You

Both types of convictions can result in jail time, expensive fines, and a criminal record that will follow you well into the future. Drug-related charges are extremely fact-specific, which is why you should hire experienced legal representation if you are facing possession charges.

At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we provide our clients with exceptional legal guidance tailored to their unique needs. Our drug possession lawyer can help navigate you through the complexities of the legal system and get you the justice you deserve. We are here for you when you need us most.


Call (757) 517-2942, or contact our attorney for your free consultation.


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