Implicit possession of illegal drugs

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Dear PAO,

My cousin is charged with unlawful possession of dangerous drugs after a search warrant was executed at his condo. The police reportedly found a bag of shabu on his coffee table. Is the crime still illegal possession of dangerous drugs when at the time the drugs were seized they were not found on my cousin’s person?

james

Dear James,

Please be aware of Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”, which states that:

“Section 11. Possession of dangerous drugs. – The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed on any person who, unless authorized by law, will possess a dangerous drug xxx”

As provided in Article 11 of the aforementioned law, the possession of dangerous drugs, without authorization under the law, is punishable as a crime. In People v. Baer (GR 228958, August 14, 2019, Ponente: Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa), the Supreme Court ruled that:

“Illegal possession of dangerous drugs under Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 includes the following: (1) the accused is in possession of an article or object identified as a prohibited drug or regulated; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and knowingly possessed the drug.

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“According to the case law, possession, under the law, includes not only real possession, but also constructive possession. Actual possession exists when the drug is in the immediate physical possession or under the control of the accused. On the other hand, implied possession exists when the drug is under the dominance and control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over his whereabouts. »

In your cousin’s case, the drugs were found on top of the coffee table in his condo, a location that is easily accessible to him and under his control. Thus, he is in implied possession of the drug. As such, your cousin can be prosecuted for the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs even if the drugs were not actually found in his person or in his immediate physical possession.

We hope we were able to answer your questions. Remember that this advice is based solely on the facts you have reported and our assessment of them. Our opinion may change when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily chronicle of the public ministry. Questions for Chef Acosta can be sent to [email protected]


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