Drug & Alcohol Possession – Legal Terms to Know

Criminal possession: The unlawful possession of certain prohibited articles, such as illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, firearms, or stolen property.

Constructive possession:  or dominion over a property without actual possession or custody of it. — Also termed effective possession.

Joint Possession:  Possession shared by two or more persons.

Simple possession: The possession of a controlled substance with no aggravating circumstances such as intent to sell.

Probable cause: A reasonable ground to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a crime or that a place contains specific items connected with a crime.  Under the Fourth Amendment, probable cause — which amounts to more than a bare suspicion but less than evidence that would justify a conviction — must be shown before an arrest warrant or search warrant may be issued.

Reasonable suspicion:  particularized and objective basis, supported by specific and articulable facts, for suspecting a person of criminal activity. • A police officer must have a reasonable suspicion to stop a person in a public place.

Terry stop:  A police officer’s brief detention, questioning, and search of a person for a concealed weapon when the officer reasonably suspects that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime.

Search warrant:  A judge’s written order authorizing a law-enforcement officer to conduct a search of a specified place and to seize evidence.

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