Can I be charged for paraphernalia found in a company apartment shared by multiple people while I was out of town for the weekend?

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Can I be charged for paraphernalia found in a company apartment shared by multiple people while I was out of town for the weekend?

I stayed in company housing part time and shared a room. While I was away for the weekend the landlord searched the apartment and found multiple drug paraphernalia. I have my personal

belongings there and want them back but I’m afraid I’ll get charged for the items, the other co-workers that lived there have fled town.

Asked on September 12, 2017 under Criminal Law, North Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be charged for paraphrenalia found in a unit occupied by multiple people. When they cannot initially establish to whom it belonged to, they can charge all the occupants, then look to develop evidence to establish to whom it belonged: that is because the standard of proof or evidence to charge is merely "probable cause," or that something is reasonably likely. If there was multiple paraphrenalia in the unit, it is reasonably likely at least some of it belonged to any given occupant. Ultimately they would need better, stronger, more detailed evidence to convict (to convict you need proof "beyond a reasonable doubt"), but that would not stop them from charging you initially. And if any of your roommates look to save their own skins by blaming it on you, if they are credible, their testimony could even be enough to convict.


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