Am I liable for drug possession in my friends car? 7 Answers as of August 04, 2011

I received a possession of marijuana ticket a few weeks back. Here is how it all happened: While hanging out with my buddies, one of them pulled out a joint to share with everyone. We smoked it, and stayed put for awhile. Once we got ready to leave, I happened to win the front seat (passenger) to my friend Greg's car. After leaving, we got pulled over. While getting pulled over, I asked Greg if there was any marijuana in the car. He said yes, but didn't know where because there was barley any left. The police officer could smell marijuana in the car and told us to hand it over (or else he was going to search the car anyways). Greg tells me to check under my seat, I reach down and I pull out an empty bag (but you could tell marijuana had been inside at some point). I then moved my seat back and found another bag further back, this one having a small amount of marijuana in it (far less than 1 gram). The officer then asked who was going to take the fall and take the ticket for possession. We clearly told him that if anyone should NOT get the ticket, it was me, for I had no knowledge of the marijuana being in the car. Turned out, Gregs (driver) license was suspended, and since I was the easiest to access, he took my license as well. Greg was told to get out of the car to deal with his suspended license. I was also told to get out of the car. Once I got out of the car, the officer handed me a pen and then was told to sign something. I asked what it was for and he told me it was a possession of marijuana ticket. This was the first time being told that I was being charged for anything. I tried to explain to him that the marijuana was never on me, and that it was not even mine. He replied with "tell that to the judge". My question is this: Do I have a legitimate defense case if I wanted to fight this ticket?

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Lowenstein Law Office
Lowenstein Law Office | Anthony Lowenstein
It depends on several factors.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/4/2011
The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
Yes you should contact an attorney for assistance. The crime is now an infraction but that does not mean you should just go to court and plead guilty. This can have several negative consequences if you plead guilty. It can lead to a license suspension if you are under 21 years of age and even prevent you from getting financial aid for college.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/3/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
If you did not have knowledge of the drugs in the car or they were not in your "constructive" possession meaning you had the ability to control them you are not legally in possession. valid.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/2/2011
Law Office of Edward J. Blum
Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
Yes, you have a defense. These facts are similar to In Re Elizabeth H. (1971) 20 Cal.App.3d 323. In Elizabeth H., the police came upon a vehicle. The driver sped off. A brief chase ensues. The car is stopped and searched. Marijuana was found in a jacket in the back seat. Elizabeth H. was one of five people in the car. The court held, "it is well-established that the mere presence of the accused with others in a vehicle in which contraband is found or from which it is thrown is not sufficient evidence, standing alone, to justify a conviction for possession (331). It seems on your facts, you could beat the charges.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/2/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
Yes you have a defense. It would be hard to prove that it was your weed in that the car was not yours and the weed was not on your person.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/2/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    MIP is a relatively minor offense, but the consequences can be severe if you don't deal with it properly (such as a 1 year license suspension). An experience attorney may be able to negotiate a dismissal for you, provided that you attend some classes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Youre the one who handed the officer the baggie, from under your seat, where you had access to it. Of course you can fight the charges. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence, facts and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. Not exactly a do it yourself project in court for someone who does not know how to effectively represent himself against a professional prosecutor intending to convict and jail you. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/1/2011
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