Understanding the Legal Concept of Possession (Actual vs. Constructive)
Actual PossessionWhen you have the item, in your direct physical control, you have actual possession of the item. If you owned a car, and were driving the car, you would have actual possession of the car. Think in terms of ability to exercise direct physical control, hence the legal terminology of dominion and control to denote possession. Actual possession can be shared with other people, and with other people who have constructive possession. Put simply, think immediate control.
Constructive PossessionWhen you do not have actual, direct physical control, but knowingly have both the intent and the power to exercise dominion and control over the item at a future time, you have constructive possession of the item. If you owned a car, and parked the car in your driveway so you could use it later, you would have constructive possession of the car. Constructive possession can be shared with other people, and with other people who have actual possession. Put simply, think shared control.