If our son lives in the lower level of our home, what is our potential liability if he should be arrested for drugs?

His area is separated by a locked door; he does not have to access our area for anything as his space is a complete living quarters. My friend told me that if he is arrested for possession of drugs, we can be arrested also. Is this true, even if we have no knowledge of him having the drugs? Also, what would the answer to this question be if we had a renter downstairs who was not related to us?

Asked on March 18, 2014 under Criminal Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can only be arrested if there is reasonable evidence to think that you participated in or assisted his criminal activities in some way; you could only be convicted after that if the evidence was strong enough to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you were involved in the crime. However, you *could* potentially lose your home if your son deals or possesses drugs from or in it: the law sometimes allows the government to confiscate property used in a crime even if the proerty's owners are not themselves participating in the criminal activity, so long as they allowed the criminal usage in some way.

The answers are similar for an unrelated renter, except that you would enjoy greater protection since it would be more difficult for the government to make out the necessary evidentiary showings when an unrelated 3rd-party renter is involved.

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