Can a passenger in a motor vehicle be arrested for unconcealed contraband? Yes, police are authorized to arrest a passenger for possession of contraband found in plain view. When a passenger is seated close to contraband found in plain view, it can be infered that the passenger knew about the contraband and had the intent and ability to exercise dominion and control over it. Under Minnesota law, this is know as the doctrine of constructive possession. A person may constructively possess contraband jointly with another person.

In State of Minnesota vs. Ortega, a passenger arrest was justifed based on the police finding a rolled-up dollar bill with a white powdery residue in the center console cup holder. The residue was field tested by the officer and found positive for cocaine. But in the case of State of Minnesota vs. Slifka, the court held that the mere presence of a passenger in a motor vehicle found to contain marijuana did not justify the arrest of the passenger. In the Slifka case, the marijuana was found concealed in the glove compartment.

If you or someone you know was a passenger in a motor and has been arrested for possession of unconcealed contraband, you will need an experienced narcotics defense attorney to defend your freedom and protect your record. Call attorney Robert J. Shane now for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at