“If you are running around with someone who is doing something bad, then you are just as guilty as they are.” You probably heard something like that from your parent or guardian growing up, right? As parents often put it – “you are guilty by association.” While that may be good parenting advice, it is not necessarily legally accurate.
With drug crimes, the “guilt by association” question boils down to whether you had control over the drug. ORC 2925.0 defines “possession” as having control over something. It then becomes a question of fact of whether you had control over the drug.
Let’s take a look at some factual scenarios:
- Knowing someone else in the car that you are in has drugs in their pocket is probably not enough to prove a case against you. Why? Because you do not have control over the drugs in that other person’s pocket.
- Knowing that there are drugs in the backpack that is sitting right next to you in the car you are in, however, very well may be enough to prove a case against you. In this scenario, you do have (or it is more likely that you have) control over what is in the backpack.
- Knowing there are drugs in a locked glove box while you are in the back seat of the car is probably not enough to prove a case against you. You do not have control over those drugs in the locked glove box.
- Knowing there are drugs in a locked cash box next to you in the back seat, however, becomes more problematic for you. Again, the question comes down to control over the drugs.
Something to keep in mind. In each scenario above, you had actual knowledge that drugs were in the car.
Remember, “knowingly” is the required mental state for a drug possession charge. So, if you had no knowledge that the drugs were in the car, then you had no ability to exert control over the drugs. However, the question of what you knew or did not know very well may be put to a judge or jury. That means that if you are facing a drug charge you and your attorney will need to marshal all of the facts (even the most minor facts) that tend to demonstrate that you had no knowledge of the existence of drugs in the car.
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