Course: Introduction / Criminal Law
In criminal law, possession means having dominion or control over something.
Possession is the actus reus of many crimes, such as the possession of weapons or controlled substances.
In criminal law, possession is a fundamental concept that plays a vital role in many criminal offenses. Possession refers to having control or custody over something, and it is an essential element in the actus reus of many crimes. The concept of possession in criminal law is different from the common understanding of ownership. In criminal law, possession is not necessarily equivalent to ownership. A person can possess something without being the legal owner of that object.
Possession can be either actual or constructive. Actual possession means having physical control over an object, such as holding a gun in one’s hand. Constructive possession means having control over an object without physically holding it, such as having a key to a storage locker that contains drugs.
Possession is an essential element of many criminal offenses, such as possession of controlled substances, firearms, or stolen property. In such cases, prosecutors must prove that the defendant had control or custody over the object in question.
For example, possession of a controlled substance requires that the prosecutor prove that the defendant had control over the drugs. The prosecution can prove this through direct evidence, such as catching the defendant with drugs in their hand, or indirect evidence, such as proving that the defendant had access to drugs in a certain location.
Possession can also be a key element in theft or robbery cases. In such cases, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had control over the stolen property. For example, if a person breaks into a house and steals a TV, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had control over the TV.
In addition to actual and constructive possession, there is also joint possession. Joint possession occurs when two or more people share control or custody over an object. For example, if two people are found in a car with drugs, they can both be charged with possession of the drugs.
It is worth noting that possession alone is not enough to convict someone of a crime. The prosecution must also prove that the defendant had knowledge of the object’s illicit nature. For example, if a person is found in possession of a bag of white powder, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew that the powder was a controlled substance.
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Last Modified: 04/09/2023