Just a few weeks ago, we discussed the concept of constructive possession under California law in a blog post. Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in another California gun case raising the issue of constructive possession.
According to the court’s opinion, a police officer approached the defendant’s vehicle when it was illegally parked near a popular lookout point. When the officer approached the car, the defendant, who was with two other people, explained that they were just enjoying the view.
The officer recognized the defendant from a prior contact, and knew him to be on probation. The officer asked if there was any contraband in the car. The defendant responded in the negative. The officer then asked the defendant for his identification. The defendant provided a false name initially, but later gave the officer his real name. The defendant then admitted to having a small amount of marijuana in a backpack that was in the car. The officer searched the backpack, which was located directly behind the center console, within reach of all three occupants. Inside was some marijuana, a knife, and a pistol. The gun was preserved for fingerprints and DNA; however, there were no fingerprints on the gun and the DNA was not tested.