KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION OF DRUGS IN A CRIMINAL CASE
"For this offense the state must prove three material elements. First, it must be proved that the item is a controlled dangerous substance.
Second, it must be proved that defendant either obtained or possessed
the substance. Third it must be proved that defendant acted knowingly
or intentionally." 33 N.J. Practice §521 p.475.
The state must prove that the defendant acted knowingly or
intentionally. The state must prove that defendant knew the nature and
character of the item, and it must prove that James's purpose in
possessing the substance was to distribute it. 33 N.J. Practice §520
Possession is the intentional control of an item accompanied by an
awareness of its character. Constructive possession is when the
defendant is aware of the substance and has an intention to exercise
control over the substance. State v. Brown, 67 N.J. Super. 450, 455,
171 A. 2d 15, 18 (App. Div. 1961).
Joint possession is when people knowingly share control over the
article. State v. Raja, 132 N.J. Super. 530, 536, 334 A. 2d 364, 367
(App. Div. 1975).
It is an offense to knowingly or intentionally obtain or possess a
controlled dangerous substance. N.J.S.A. 24:21-20a. "The state must
prove knowledge or intent on the part of the defendant. Knowledge
means that the defendant was aware of the existence of the object and
was aware of its character. Intent means it was the defendant's purpose
to obtain or possess the item while being aware of its character. State
v. McMenamin, 133 N.J. Super. 521, 524, 337 A. 2d 630, 631 (App. Div.
1975); State v. Brown, 67 N.J. Super. 450, 455, 171 A. 2d 15, 18 (App.
Mere presence in a premises with other persons where controlled
dangerous substances are found is not sufficient to justify an inference
that a particular defendant was in sole or joint possession of the
substance. State v. Sapp, 71 N.J. 476, 477, 366 A. 2d 334, 335 (1976),
overruled on other grounds by State v. Brown, 80 N.J. 587, 404 A. 2d
The state must prove that the defendant was aware of the character of the substance to prove that the defendant acted with knowledge. State v. Reed, 34 N.J. 554, 557, 170 A. 2d 419, 421 (1961); State v. Rajnai, 132 N.J. Super. 530, 536, 334 A. 2d 364, 367 (App. Div. 1975).