What is presumptive possession in New York?

Possession of an illegal drug is unlawful and, depending on the substance and amount found in possession can result in imprisonment and fines. In New York State, there is something called presumptive possession, which deals with drugs in a space and how it legally relates to the people in that space.

What is presumptive possession?

New York Penal Law 220.25 explains the presumptive possession. It tells us that the rule applies to two main spaces: vehicles and rooms. It considers what responsibility the people in the same vehicle or room as an illegal drug must take for it, even though it may not be the property of everyone present.

Presumptive possession in a vehicle

In an automobile, not including public ones like city buses, every person inside may face charges of possession when an illegal drug is present. Each person in the vehicle at the time that the possession is discovered must be proven beyond reasonable doubt to have been present, though it does not have to be proven that they knew of the drug’s presence.

Presumptive possession in a room

In a room, those present may be found guilty of possession if the illegal substance is in open view, is being prepared for sale, if the person is in “close proximity” to the drug so that they may be involved in the sale and if the person is proven to be present beyond reasonable doubt.

This does not include public places. It also does not apply to those who are legally authorized to have the substance or if another has it on their person rather than having it sitting out in the room.

Even if you are not the one who buys or otherwise is in ownership of an illegal drug, there is the possibility that you will still face charges of possession for being in the same space.