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Possession of Marijuana & Maintaining a Common Nuisance: The Roommate Defense

If you are arrested for possession of marijuana or maintaining a common nuisance in Indiana, you may have a defense if the State cannot prove that you had exclusive control over the location where marijuana or other drugs were found. If police obtain a search warrant and find illegal drugs in your home or apartment, you can be charged with a crime under a theory of constructive possession. To prove constructive possession of marijuana in Indiana, the State must prove that you had both the capability and intent to maintain control over the drugs.

If you live alone, the State can rely on an inference that the drugs belong to you. However, if you have a roommate, the State must present additional evidence to support a theory of constructive possession.

Constructive Possession of Marijuana and Controlled Substances: The Roommate Defense

If drugs are found in your residence, but not on your person, the State must prove that you had constructive possession of marijuana or controlled substances to convict you. This means that if you have a roommate, and the drugs are found in a common area of your apartment or house, the mere presence of drugs may not be enough to convict you. The State must prove that you maintained control over the drugs, which can be inferred from the following factors:

  • Incriminating statements. You should never give a statement to police without your attorney being present.
  • Attempted flight or furtive gestures. Attempting to flee law enforcement could lead to a charge of resisting law enforcement. It is also evidence that is admissible to prove constructive possession of marijuana, ecstasy, or other drugs.
  • Manufacturing setting. Evidence of a marijuana growing operation can be used to support a conviction for constructive possession. The strength of that evidence depends in part on the nature of the evidence and where it is located.
  • Proximity of the defendant to the contraband. If drugs are found near you, or in a place where you would frequently access, it can be inferred that you had the ability to control the drugs.
  • Plain view. If drugs are found within your plain view, it can be inferred that you knew they were there and could have controlled them.
  • Drugs found in close proximity to your property. If drugs are found in close proximity to your property, you could be found in constructive possession of the drugs. For example, if marijuana, ecstasy, or other drugs are found in a closet where your book bag or workout clothes are also kept, the State can rely on an inference that you knew the drugs were present too.

Defending Marijuana and Drug Cases on Indiana College Campuses

Many college students share a house or apartment with roommates. If someone in the house has illegal drugs, you could be at risk of a criminal charge even if the drugs are not yours. If police obtain a search warrant, it is important not to make any statements and exercise your right to an attorney. You may have a defense if marijuana or controlled substances are not found in your exclusive possession. Possession of Adderall, Xanax, or other controlled substances is a Class A misdemeanor if you do not have a valid prescription. However, under some circumstances, such as having a prior drug conviction, charges are elevated to a Level 6 felony.

If you are a college student charged with constructive possession of marijuana, ecstasy, Xanax, or other controlled substances, call Gibson Law Office. We have defended college students throughout Indiana, including students at:

            Purdue University 
– West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County
            Indiana University – Bloomington, Monroe County
            Butler University – Indianapolis, Marion County
            Ball State University – Muncie, Delaware County
            Wabash College – Crawfordsville, Montgomery County
            IPFW – Fort Wayne, Allen County
            Indiana State University – Terre Haute, Vigo County
            St. Joseph’s College – Rensselaer, Jasper County
Gibson Law Office attorneys have extensive experience defending college students in marijuana and controlled substance cases. We understand the impact a criminal conviction can have on a student’s job prospects. If you are a college student charged with a crime, call us today at 855-9-GIBSON for a free consultation. In our meeting, we will discuss the facts of your case and how to strategically defend the charges.

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Posted: 3/31/2014 3:09:28 PM by Brett Gibson


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