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

UPDATED: Oct 6, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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