Three Ways to Prove Marijuana Possession
Columbus GA Criminal Defense Lawyer Mark Jones Discusses Marijuana Possession Cases
In Georgia there are three ways the State of Georgia can prove up a drug possession case. The three ways the prosecutor can prove drug possession is by showing: (1) actual possession of the controlled substance; (2) constructive possession of the controlled substance; or (3) consumption of the controlled substance.
(1) Actual Possession:
Possession is nine tenths of the law. Obviously, if you actually possess marijuana, then you can be charged with violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act. Georgia law defines actually possessing a drug as, “a person who knowingly has direct physical control over a thing at a given time.” Evans v. State, 167 Ga. App. 396 (1983). It is not necessary that the drugs be on the defendant’s person to be in actual possession.
The line between actual and constructive possession is hazy, but if the State of Georgia can prove that you knew you had direct, physical control over a controlled substance, a jury could convict you for possessing marijuana. Cochran v. State, 190 Ga. App. 884 (1989).
(2) Constructive Possession:
A person is in constructive possession of marijuana or a controlled substance when that person knowingly has both the power and the intention at a given time to exercise dominion or control over the drug. Lockwood v. State, 257 Ga. 796 (1988). Mere spatial proximity to a controlled substance is not sufficient to support a conviction under the doctrine of constructive possession. Maddox v. State, 322 Ga. App. 811 (2013).
However, being close to a controlled substance plus other evidence, such as having access to the container in which the drugs are located, possessing cash denominations consistent with drug sales, and possessing multiple cell phones, will support a conviction under the doctrine of constructive possession because these factors show an intention to exercise control over the drug. Id. Power over the drug for constructive possession purposes is generally associated with access to the drugs. Strozier v. State, 313 Ga. App. 804 (2012).
While not technically a separate legal doctrine of possession, blood or urine test results or other indicators of having consumed marijuana or controlled substances constitutes evidence of possessing marijuana. When coupled with other facts, consumption may be enough for a drug or marijuana conviction. Cargile v. State, 262 Ga. App. 319 (2003) (the presence of marijuana metabolites in the defendant’s system constituted circumstantial evidence of possession).
There are three central ways for the State of Georgia to prove up a drug possession charge: (1) actual possession; (2) constructive possession; and (3) consumption. Oftentimes, what may seem like a “slam dunk” case for the government, may be a very weak case, depending on the circumstances of the case. Make sure and call Columbus Ga Lawyer Mark Jones for a consultation regarding you or a loved one’s criminal case at 706-225-2555.
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