VO: How does the court legally determine possession of drugs?

Bob: Generally, here in Cook County the judges are going to hold the prosecution to the burden of proving two different things. There’s two different elements they must meet in a possession prosecution. One, is the knowledge element. Basically, did this person know that these drugs or this narcotics or these narcotics or this contraband was present in my vehicle. And if you didn’t know it was there, you are not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of possession. They’ll find you not guilty. The second thing they have to prove is whether or not you are in actual, physical control of the narcotics. So if another person is in your car and they have the drugs on them, even if you know they have the drugs on them, you are not guilty of possession of narcotics even though they’ve met the knowledge element. Now I’ve been in other jurisdictions around the state where the prosecution can argue what’s called Constructive Possession. Because this is your car, you’re responsible for what’s in it. Because this is your house, you’re responsible for what’s in it. We are going to assume the knowledge element, we’re going to assume you know what’s in your car. Here, in Cook County, as a general rule judges feel like that is not sufficient to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of a felony possession offense.

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