Constructive possession


Constructive possession

Constructive possession is a legal fiction to describe a situation where an individual has actual control over chattels or real property without actually having physical control of the same assets. At law, a person with constructive possession stands in the same legal position as a person with actual possession.

For example, if one's car is sitting in one's driveway, one has physical possession of the car. However, any person with the key has constructive possession, as they may take physical possession at any time without further consent from one.

Constructive possession is an important concept in both the criminal law regarding theft and embezzlement, and the civil law regarding possession of land and chattels. For example, if someone steals your credit card number, the actual credit card never leaves your actual possession, but the person who has stolen the number does have constructive possession, and could most likely be charged with theft of your credit card information.

Constructive possession is also an important concept in cases of seizure of goods by private or government authorities. Take, for example, a large piece of equipment. Should money be loaned against the value of the equipment, and the loan goes into default, the creditor may find it difficult to actually remove the equipment in a timely manner. However, it may by notice to the borrower take constructive possession, which effectively prevents the borrower from further using the equipment pending its removal. Similarly, when a landlord exercises a contractual remedy of distraint of goods for unpaid rent, the landlord need not remove the goods from the premises, but may take constructive possession of the goods through a simple declaration. At that point, if the tenant attempted to remove them, the tenant would be guilty of theft.

However, a person who makes it impossible to take possession of another's property has taken actual possession, not constructive possession. For example, if someone chains someone else's car to an immovable object, he or she has taken possession of it even though he or she has not moved it.

Constructive possession can also refer to items inside of a vehicle. It is possible for the owner and driver of the vehicle to be in constructive possession of all items inside their car. If a minor were to be driving their car with passengers who have possession of alcohol or any illegal substance, the driver may be cited for constructive possession

A person can be charged with constructive possession of an illegal device if they possess the otherwise legal material to assemble it. If a person has in his possession or control the ingredients to make an explosive device, he can be charged with constructive possession of that device.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • constructive possession — see possession Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. constructive possession …   Law dictionary

  • constructive possession — That possession which the law annexes to the title; sometimes called legal possession, or possession in law, to distinguish it from possession in deed or in fact, which actual occupancy gives. 42 Am J1st Prop § 42. As applied to a dissersor: a… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • constructive possession — noun (law) having the power and intention to have and control property but without direct control or actual presence upon it • Topics: ↑law, ↑jurisprudence • Hypernyms: ↑possession, ↑ownership …   Useful english dictionary

  • constructive possession — legal ownership rights …   English contemporary dictionary

  • general constructive possession — That possession which the law attaches to the title to real property where there is no actual possession in the owner of the title, and no one in adverse possession of the property; to be distinguished from that construc tive possession known as… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • constructive — con·struc·tive /kən strək tiv/ adj: created by a legal fiction: as a: inferred by a judicial construction or interpretation b: not actual but implied by operation of the law made a constructive entry when he refused to take the opportunity for a… …   Law dictionary

  • possession — pos·ses·sion /pə ze shən/ n 1: the act, fact, or condition of having control of something: as a: actual possession in this entry b: constructive possession in …   Law dictionary

  • Constructive treason — refers to the judicial extension of the statutory definition of the crime of treason. For example, the English Treason Act 1351 declares it to be treason When a Man doth compass or imagine the Death of our Lord the King. This was subsequently… …   Wikipedia

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  • Possession (law) — In law, possession is the control a person intentionally exercises toward a thing. In all cases, to possess something, a person must have an intention to possess it. A person may be in possession of some property (although possession does not… …   Wikipedia