Tyler Smith , a star player on Tennessee’s basketball team, as well as three players were recently arrested for drug and weapons charges in Knoxville.Knoxville Police Department reported that the four players were arrested after a traffic stop for speeding.According to the police report, officers smelled marijuana coming from the car.A police drug dog indicated the presence of drugs in the car.Police searched the car and found handguns, a bag of marijuana ,and an open container of alcohol.All were charged with possession of firearms and drug possession charges.
What is the legal importance of this case? It illustrates that passengers in a car can be charged with a crime even though they do not actually possess the drugs or weapons. In this case the weapons were found under the seat.The police arrested these players under the theory of constructive possession of drugs and weapons.
Constructive possession requires that a person knowingly has the power and the intention at a given time to exercise dominion and control over an object,either directly or indirectly though others.In essence, constructive possession is the ability to reduce an object to actual possession.There is a defense to this theory.An individual’s mere presence is an area which drugs are found, or association with another individual in possession of drugs is not , alone sufficent sufficent to establish constructive possession. See State v. Patterson 966 S.W.2d.435 ( Tenn. Crim. App. 1997 ).
On a sidenote, Choach Bruce Pearl suspended the four players. The Vols won their next game without the suspended players.