WHAT IS POSSESSION?
According to the law a person is in possession of something when she or he has it on their person or knowingly:
- has another person keeping it for him/her, or
- has it in a place for his or another person’s benefit.
The law also states that where two or more people knowingly agree that one person is to have something in his custody, all them can be found to possess that thing.
A person is in joint possession of something that she/he knowingly agrees to have another person possess. In order for a person to be found in joint possession of something that she/he does not have on their person, they must have a degree of control of it. For an example if a person agrees to store illegal substances in their basement, on behalf of a relative who knows the substances are illegal and can access the substances as she/he pleases, both people can be found to possess the substance. The relative will be found to be in joint possession. If a person is found in control of a substance that is owned jointly with other people, all the people that own it jointly are deemed to be in control of it before the law.
A person is in constructive possession of something if they have control over it without actually having it on their person. This means that a person can be convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking if she/he sends a courier to deliver an amount of a substance. In order to establish this, a prosecutor must show knowledge of an item, consent to have that item possessed constructively and a degree of control of the item. Another commonly seen example of constructive possession is when a person stores illegal substances at the property of another person. The person who owns the illegal substances and asks to have them stored at another place will be found to be in constructive possession of the substances by a court if these facts are proved by the prosecutor.
What is legal knowledge?
In order for a person to have legal knowledge of an illegal item, it must be proved that s/he had knowledge of the illegal nature of the item. For example, if a person believes that they have a bag of baking soda, but the bag actually contains cocaine, he or she cannot be found to possess the cocaine because they honestly believed that she/he was carrying baking soda.
Lakin Afolabi is a Criminal Defence Lawyer in London, Ontario who has assisted many people accused of possessing both drugs, guns, and other illegal items. If you are someone you know is facing a charge of criminal contact him now for a consultation.