Does having drugs in your car mean you can be arrested for possession? 11 Answers as of October 20, 2010

A friend of my son was smoking marijuana in my sons car and they were caught by the police. My son does not smoke marijuana. Will he be charged for possession because it took place in his car? We are in California.

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Law Offices of Juan Dotson
Law Offices of Juan Dotson | Juan Dotson
Yes, if the police have probable cause to believe your son knew there was marijuana in the vehicle. Many times, probable cause is obtained from the defendants own mouth so if your son admitted he knew about the weed, then he has a poor defense. Other times, probable cause is found when the controlled substance is found in plain view within an arm's length of the defendant.

Whether or not he smokes marijuana is not relevant unless that fact is used to prove your son was so naive, he didn't know marijuana was an illegal drug.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/20/2010
Law Office of Marc K. Herbert
Law Office of Marc K. Herbert | Marc K. Herbert
A driver is responsible for any illegal property found in his vehicle. So, your son will probably be charged with possession.

It is important to know that "possession" does not mean "ownership". The fact that his friend had the marijuana does not provide a defense for your son.

Your son may avoid prosecution if the passenger admits that he brought the marijuana into the car and that your son never touched it. Although not a complete defense, some prosecutors might not file a case against your son under that situation.

If the police recovered less than an ounce of marijuana, the charge should only be an infraction. This charge is handled like a traffic ticket, with a small fine and no probation or jail.

However, the district attorney may try to claim that your son drove the vehicle with knowledge that marijuana was inside his vehicle. If so,your son could be charged with transportation of marijuana, which is a felony in California.

The situation becomes even more complicated if your son is on probation or parole for any prior convictions.

If you would like to discuss the specific facts of this case, please call my office.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/20/2010
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
The question is whether your son was aware of the drugs presence and had some control over it even if he was not the one who brought it in or was holding it. The mere fact that someone else had possession of it is not enough. Of course it is up to the officer to decide who to charge if anyone. It is up to a judge or jury to decide however who if anyone can be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/20/2010
Wise Law Group
Wise Law Group | Michael J. Wise, Esq
To be convicted of possession of any contraband including marijuana the government must prove that he knew of the presence of the contraband. Therefore it depends on what statements he or his passenger made, the location of the marijuana and realistically the amount.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/19/2010
The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
He certainly can be charged with possession. It will depend upon where the marijuana was found in the car but yes if there are any drugs in the car everyone in the car can be charged with possession.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/19/2010
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    I would need information, but if there are drugs in the car, then it is possible they can charge him with possession, although there are a lot of possible variations and defenses. Depending on the situation, and if they did a drug test on your son, there are potential 23152(a) charges that could be involved, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Did they drug test your son?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2010
    Law Offices of Staycie R. Sena
    Law Offices of Staycie R. Sena | Staycie R. Sena
    He could be charged for possession. It will be up to the charging agency to determine if the facts warrant filing charges against him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2010
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Yes. Whether he is charged, is up to the police and DA, depending on their assessment of the facts. If he is, feel free to contact me for the legal help hell need.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2010
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    It depends on many factors. If your son was arrested, he likely spoke to the police, who are experts at making your son incriminate himself. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2010
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    They can potentially charge all occupants of the vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2010
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