Question Detail: I was in the passenger seat of my friend’s vehicle while he was pulled over for taking an illegal right turn on a red. Police smelled marijuana. My friend said the car was his and anything in it was his. They searched the car and found marijuana, a grinder, and a bowl. Since the grinder was found BELOW the passenger’s seat (imagine directly in the middle below the seat as it was a stash spot for my friends small grinder), the cops cited constructive possession and attributed it to me even though it was my friend’s car and he clearly said all of it was his. It is my friend’s grinder and he is willing to take the blame as should be. I have a previous record with marijuana, which is why I thought the cops would do something like this to begin with and I don’t need anything else on my record since I’m doing a pre-trial diversion for my previous offense. I find this to be a pretty ridiculous situation when my friend clearly said all of it and everything was his and I had no knowledge of the grinder below my seat.
Answer: The charge will not be dropped at the first appearance since the prosecutor has gone to the trouble of drafting a formal complaint and charging you with a controlled substance offense. In order to be convicted based on a constructive possession theory, the prosecution will need to prove that you had both knowledge of the existence of the marijuana and its identity and that you jointly maintained dominion and control over the marijuana with the driver. I would not be too worried about the paraphernalia charges which are only petty misdemeanor offenses. The prosecution will attempt to prove knowledge by the odor of marijuana in the car and dominion and control by the fact that the grinder was found under your seat. You will probably need to try this case to a jury after the co-defendant has resolved his case so that he can testify for you without concern for self-incrimination. You may have had knowledge of the presence of the marijuana in the car, but that does not mean you had dominion and control over the driver’s marijuana. You are innocent and your case can be won.
If you have been charged with a controlled substance offense, you will need an experienced narcotics defense attorney. Attorney Robert J. Shane has 29 years of criminal defense experience. Call for a free initial consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information on drug defenses at www.criminallawyerminnesota.com.