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Can I be charged with possession if I was not in my vehicle and police searched it because it was left running

Salisbury, MD |

I have no felonies or prior drug charges, it was my vehicle, but I was no where around someone called me in told me my car was left running so I walked up to the store were officers where searching it they said I have to take the charge because it's my car. I wasn't even at the store.

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Attorney answers 6


Anyone might be charged with a crime, regardless of whether he or she has in fact broken the law. Possession might be individual, joint, or constructive. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to go to trial. Consider seeking a confidential consultation.

Information in the reply is provided as a public service. It is neither a comprehensive statement of the law nor legal advice, and no one should rely on it as such. If you have a legal problem or question, you should consult with an attorney, who can investigate the particular circumstances of your situation. Responding to a post does not constitute legal representation. I am not your lawyer, until we make an agreement and I receive my fee. Beware that posts and replies are not confidential. Anyone can read them.


You may be charged with a crime. Proving you guilty is a different story. The State will still be required to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You should contact a criminal defense attorney. The search of your car may have been illegal. You may have other grounds as well to defend yourself on. An attorney can review the charges and evaluate your case. - This is not legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. This is for education and informational purposes only. It is always recommended that you contact an attorney with any concerns as each individual case is unique.


You certainly can be charged but whether or not you'll be found guilty is a completely different story.

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Hire a lawyer and stop posting any more facts on this public forum. It is more than a little suspicious that a car registered to your name is left running and you are within walking distance, if you are claiming you didn't drive it and leave it there, but also have "no idea" how the car got there or who was driving it. You are not supposed to leave a running vehicle unattended. This may have given the police sufficient probable cause to enter it and turn it off. If the drugs were in plain sight, then they needed nothing else to conduct the search. If, however, they found the drugs only after turning the car off and looking under seats or inside closed compartments, then there may be a suppression argument. Hire a lawyer.


A police officer can charge anyone (except individuals with diplomatic immunity) with the commission of a crime. A charge is nothing other than an allegation. The judge warns juries that they may not consider the charging document as an indicator of guilt.

Your real question is whether you will be convicted of drug possession even though the drugs were not in your physical possession at the time of discovery.

There is a concept under Maryland law known as “constructive possession”. The legal theory is that an individual need not have actual physical possession of the illegal item. As long as he bears sufficient evidence of custody, dominion and control over the location where the contraband is found, possession can be inferred.

An experienced criminal defense attorney spends a lot of time explaining to juries the difference between mere proximity to an illegal object, such as drugs, and the constructive possession of the illegal object.

Each case has its own unique set of facts, which are very important in mounting a successful defense. The lawyer also needs a full understanding and knowledge of current case law that addresses the absolute requirement that all elements of a possession charge be proven beyond a reasonable doubt!


Short answer: Yes, you can be charged. In fact, you already have been.

"Possession," in a legal context, loosely defined as having dominion or control over illegal contraband. If you had control of your vehicle at the time, or should have, then you could be lawfully convicted of possession illegal goods within that vehicle

Either way, you must present a defense to the state's attorney. You should meet with a criminal defense attorney to discuss how to go about doing this. This is NOT something that should be put off until the day of trial. A good attorney will help you put together any/all documentation that could be used in your defense.