Can you be held responsible for marijuana found under a car in public parking area?

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Can you be held responsible for marijuana found under a car in public parking area?

I went outside in my apartment complex’s parking lot to talk with a friend. An officer pulled up

behind us supposedly checking if everything was OK. He said he smelled marijuana and did a

search. A small bag of weed was found under my side of the car. Can I be charged with this if the car was already parked when I got in and in a public parking lot?

Asked on April 9, 2016 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be charged with it if there is "reasonable cause" to believe it was yours--and if drugs are taped under your car, or under a car you were using or were in (and under "your side"), there may be "reasonable cause" to think it may have been yours. That does not necessarily mean you will ultimately be convicted: to be convicted, the proof must be "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is a much tougher standard; there are things that could provide reasonable doubt, such as if this was not actually your car (you don't say for certain in the question), so the bag could easily have belonged to the owner--that could right there create reasonable doubt. However, the standard for an initial arrest is lower than the standard to convict, and if the drugs were found "under [your] side of the car," that could be enough to provide reasonable cause to arrest or charge you.


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