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Court Decides Constructive Possession in Marijuana Case


The appellant in this case was a passenger in a car where marijuana was found. He is appealing his juvenile adjudication on the two counts of possession of contraband on the ground that the evidence did not support a finding of constructive possession.

Case Background

The majority of the case against the defendant consisted of testimony of the arresting officer. The officer stated that she was on patrol during the early morning hours when she saw two young men trying to change a tire on a car located in a public parking lot. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the officer approached the young men and offered to help by providing light with her flashlight. The deputy stated that the young men were friendly, but acted a bit nervous and suspicious.

The officer stated that the appellant kept looking towards the car and placing himself between the deputy and the car whenever she moved. She asked the two for identification and the driver gave her his license. The appellant did not have identification, but looked for it in the glove box.

The officer stated that while she was at the car she could smell something that she could not identify specifically, but believed to be marijuana. In the panel of the open driver’s side door she saw two large buds of marijuana in plain view. She seized this and then arrested the driver and searched the interior of the car. During her search she found a large quantity of marijuana seeds in a bag. She also found a scale, some loose marijuana, and several individual bags of marijuana. Based on the search she arrested the appellant as well.

Procedural Background

The appellant was denied a motion for dismissal. He then testified that he was getting a ride home and had been in the car for about a half an hour. A Queens Criminal Lawyer said he states that the car belonged to the driver and that he did not know anything about the contraband that was found inside the car. He also contradicted the officer stating that he did not go to the car to look for is identification because he knew that he did not have id with him.

The appellant moved for dismissal once again at the close of all the evidence arguing that the state had failed to make a prima facie case of possession against him. The motion was denied once again.

The appellant was then adjudicated by the trial court for possessing drug paraphernalia and more than 20 grams of marijuana. Probation along with other sanctions was imposed.

Court Discussion and Decision

The court must consider whether or not the evidence against the defendant is enough to establish that the defendant constructively possessed marijuana. A Staten Island Criminal Lawyer said the court feels that the evidence that was provided by the state is not sufficient for this charge made against the defendant. The appellant states that he did not know about the contraband and there is no evidence to support the claim that he did, aside from the fact that he was sitting next to several bags of marijuana.

For this reason, the court is reversing the conviction and the appeal is granted in favor of the defendant.

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