Drug possession is having access to illegal substances regardless of your intent. This means having any illicit drug is against the law, even if you did not purchase it or want to use it.
Understanding the definition of possession is vital to avoid getting charged with a drug crime.
What drug possession means
Whether a friend hands you drugs to hold for them or you are a passenger in a vehicle with drugs in it, you are in possession of those drugs. This is true even if you did not purchase them. For example, if your friend puts drugs under the front seat of your car, law enforcement can arrest you and any other passengers for drug possession.
The difference between constructive and actual possession
North Carolina law recognizes two types of drug possession; constructive and actual.
- Actual drug possession means you have illegal substances on your person or in your personal belongings, such as a purse or backpack.
- Constructive possession is when drugs are not found on you but are nearby, and you can access the drugs.
While law enforcement can arrest multiple offenders for constructive possession, the state must prove you knew the drugs were there, that they were illegal and that you could use them if you wanted to.
Drug paraphernalia can also lead to criminal charges
Items used for the manufacture, distribution or consumption of drugs are also illegal to have. Law enforcement can arrest you for possessing drug paraphernalia even if you do not have drugs.
Possessing drugs or paraphernalia can have a lasting impact on your future, so it is vital to understand how the law defines criminal possession.