One of the large parts of my practice is a variety of possession crimes, including possession of marijuana.
There are two components to a possession crime. There is the actual possession, defined by Texas law as, “having care, custody, control or management of the object.”
Then, more importantly, “having knowledge or intent to exercise that care, custody, control or management.” So many people will lament that they were riding in a car with someone that had marijuana, and both were arrested. They figured because they were in a car with someone that had marijuana, that they were automatically guilty, and just took a plea. They got time served or probation. Ten years down the road, they have studied engineering, another science, or some other field, and are trying to move up in the ranks professionally or get a security clearance. But this marijuana possession from 10-15 years ago, is causing problems trying to achieve that goal.
What can be done? We go back and review the case. Often times, I find out that they weren’t actually guilty of possession of marijuana.
If you are riding in a car with a person that has marijuana, that is probably not very good judgement.
However, unless you were controlling, managing, or possessing the marijuana, then you may not be guilty of the strict crime of marijuana.
This is not to say that if you are riding with people that have marijuana in the car that you are automatically not guilty. No, you have got to use your head, be smart, and exercise extremely good judgement. I preach this to my own kids. Every time that they go out, I tell them, “you have to use very good judgement.”
Having said that, simply because you were in proximity of marijuana does not necessarily make you culpable of criminal possession of that marijuana. The question is strictly, did you exercise intentional or knowing care, custody, or control of that marijuana? If you didn’t then you should not be guilty of this crime.
Folks that are faced with these types of circumstances need to clearly understand this factor before you plea guilty to a seemingly good or expedient deal from a prosecutor.
You do not want to simply respond, “Well you know this is such a good deal, I need to take it. Go ahead and get on with their lives. Because it won’t penalize me too bad. I’ll just go ahead and take responsibility. And do my little probation or get time served and out of jail and then go on down the road.”
You need to talk to someone that has some experience with defending marijuana possession cases. Getting some practical, straight-forward, clear definitions as to what actually equals criminality and what doesn’t when is comes to marijuana possession and what this might mean for their future.