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Wisconsin "Not my drugs" Defense The surprising legal definition of 'possession'

Surprisingly, an item does not need to be in your physical control or on your person to be considered in your possession. If drugs or a gun is found underneath your bed, in the home you own, it is an area that you exert control, and therefore it could be considered in your possession.

Tom Grieve

OWI & Criminal Defense Attorney

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What Does Being in Possession of Something Mean?

In Wisconsin, you can be charged for being in possession of many different illegal items - from drugs, to drug paraphernalia, to firearms. But what does “possession” mean?

Possession has several different legal definitions. Obviously, if an item is on your person, in your hand, in your pocket, etc., it can legally be defined as in your possession. Possession can also mean that you knowingly have actual physical control of an item.

However, possession does not require that an item be on your person or in your physical control. An item is also in your possession if it is in an area over which you exert physical control. For example, if the police find a firearm in your closet in your bedroom, it is in an area over which you exert physical control. Even though it is not on your person, the police could still charge you with possession.

Possession can also be shared by more than one person at a time. For example, if drugs are found in the center console of a vehicle that has 4 occupants, all 4 occupants could potentially be charged with possession of those drugs.

Also, keep in mind that ownership of an item is not required for possession. Even if you do not own an item, you can be in possession of it if it is on your person or in an area over which you exert physical control.

You are only guilty if you are convicted™

If you have been charged with possession of an illegal item, contact our team of award-winning attorneys to discuss what defenses you may have, and how we can help.

In Wisconsin, how long does a Possession Definition charge stay on your record?

A drug does not have to be on your person to be considered in your possession, so you could face a $10,000 fine, 10 years in jail or other penalties if you have drugs under your bed or in your glovebox and are convicted. You do not need to be convicted for the charges to remain on your record for life.
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