If drugs are found in a car, can all of the passengers be tried?

My brother was arrested last week. He was in the car with 2 other guys. The cops pulled them over for a faulty tail light. They found drugs in car. Since no one claimed the drugs, they charged all 3 with 2 counts of trafficking. They set all of their bonds to $100,000. If no one confesses, can they take all 3 of them to trial? Or will someone have to confess first before they can proceed. 2 have other drug charges on their record and my brother only has minor traffic violation.

Asked on October 6, 2011 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, the police do not need to wait until someone confesses--if they did, any time a group of people were arrested together and it was not immediately clear who did what, they could avoid liability by simply not speaking.

The authorities can charge all of them if they believe there is evidence to show that all of them possessed and/or were selling the drugs; they can be convicted if there is enough evidence to convince a jury of that beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence can be based on: 1) were the drugs openly in the car, so anyone in the car had to be aware of (and arguably involved with) them; 2) fingerprints on bags, paraphenalia, etc.: 3) any trace of drugs (e.g. dust, residue) on the people; 4) etc.--they don't necessarily need a confession.

Your brother should retain a criminal defence attorney and should not say anything to anyone until he has spoken with his lawyer.


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