What is a roommate’s liability for another roommate’s illegal activities?

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What is a roommate’s liability for another roommate’s illegal activities?

My boyfriend’s roommate was indicted and charged with felony possession of marijuana. He was growing it. My boyfriend is worried that he will be indicted too since he lives in the house. The police raided the house and took all the plants and loose stuff along with firearms. Can my boyfriend get in trouble for this?He is clean. Will he get indicted too? Should he speak with a criminal law attorney? In Orange County, TX.

Asked on August 16, 2011 Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

For any given dope case, the state has to prove that a defendant had care, custody, or control of the marijuana.  Living in the house, just by itself, will probably not be enough for a conviction, but it's enough for the State to get an indictment.  A grand jury can infer that it's likely that roommate knew about the weed, certainly smelled it at some point, and chose to remain in the house.  He can present a defense, though, depending on the facts of his case.  Facts that would weigh in your boyfriend's favor include that everything recovered was found in the roommate's personal area and the roommate took full responsibility.  Factors that could weight against your boyfriend include him knowing about the weed and it was grown in a common area (like the living room or backyard).  If the weed was being grown in a common area, and your boyfriend did nothing to remove it, he's probably at least a party to the offense.  You may want to consult with an attorney before your boyfriend gets indicted.  Some DA's offices will allow you to present packets to the grand jury so they know your story.  A criminal attorney can also review factors specific to your case to see if other defensive theories are available. 


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