Some Texas residents have questions about whether they can own a firearm. For example, felons under most circumstances cannot have a gun. However, law enforcement may determine that a prohibited person is guilty of unlawful possession even if that person is not carrying a gun or does not have a gun in the home.
There is a form of possession called constructive possession. This kind of possession might not be clear to you, but it is important to know since law enforcement can use this concept to charge you with a possession crime in certain circumstances.
Defining constructive possession
According to the Cornell Law School, constructive possession does not require you to have an object in your direct physical control. However, you must have a large degree of control over an object. Even if the item is not in your home, you could retrieve it from another location that you do have control over.
For example, you may own money or property inside of a safe deposit box at your bank. Since you own a key to the box, you control the contents housed in the box. You have both knowledge of the box contents and the ability to control the contents, which adds up to constructive possession of whatever is inside.
Constructive possession of guns
Law enforcement often uses constructive possession charges in cases involving illegal items like drugs, but it can also apply to unlawful possession of a firearm. To take an example, a person who cannot own a firearm under law may have a spouse who maintains a gun in a safe. The prohibited person may know the combination and have access to the safe. All of these factors could contribute to a charge of constructive possession.
Constructive possession cases can become complicated. Whether a person can beat back a charge of constructive possession of an illegal firearm will depend on the circumstances of the case.