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Old 12-08-2002, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 548
Drug Laws and Roommates

I'm going to posit a hypothetical legal situation in hopes somebody either knows the specific laws that apply, or is a law enforcement or legal professional who has seen this sort of thing happen before.

Say my roommates are sitting in the living room of my apartment (Leases are separate), partaking of an illegal drug with a number of other people. I'm sitting in my room, not partaking of the aforementioned illegal drug.

First question: if the police knock on the door, due to a noise complaint or whatever, and see a roomful of stoned people, what's going to happen? More importantly, what's going to happen to me, sober and tucked away in my room? What would the consequences be if I held a lease to the same apartment, but was out when the cops rousted them?

My concern in that hypothetical situation would be that if they're caught, then I'm, law-wise, in deep moose-leavings. My other concern would be that, not being a law enforcement official, I can't really make them stop. To threaten such people with legal consequences would, in this hypothetical situation, only encourage retaliation, and they're much more accomplished liars than I could ever hope to be.

Second question: if I were to contact the police and report the behavior, which I would feel to be endangering my own law-abiding self, would that change how John Law treated me when the hammer fell? Would such narcing be necessary to protect me in the event that they were found out and prosecuted?
Old 12-08-2002, 12:15 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 26,715
I'm not really sure if this has anything to do with you, but...When a friend of mine had her dorm room raided (she was smoking pot in the room, and the hallway did smell) amongst other things, the police did find a pipe laying on her roommates desk and considered it evedince against her (the one getting busted). BTW it was more of a decorative pipe, but since it had been used once for fun, it had residue in it. Anyways, the girl said that she shouldn't get busted for it since it wasn't her's, and wasn't on her desk etc... The police said that since it was in the room, and was in her reach it was hers. Now if you were to call the police on your friends that could be a different story (personally I would leave the residence and call them, this way your not even around when it happens).

As a side note, it took three police an hour to seach the little dorm room, meanwhile the girl is sitting by the open window (still open from when she was smoking), some how when all three cops just happened to be looking the other way she managed to worm a quarter pound of pot out from her hiding spot and toss it over her shoulder and out the window, then the same with a scale. She's REALLY REALLY lucky she didn't get caught with that. The cops also took apart every one of her CD's looking for LSD, yet they didn't open up a piece of folded up tin foil in plain view in the desk drawer, but they did find two vicodins (legit, her's from back surgery) in a ring box under the stuffing, and took them since they weren't in a bottle. I won't go on, I don't want to get this thread closed without your question being answered.
Old 12-08-2002, 01:31 AM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 962
I don't know the specific laws in your area, but in general you are liable for any drugs in your apartment that are within your domain and control. That means if they are behind locked doors in the other people's rooms, you can say you had no idea there were any drugs in the apartment and probably get away with it. The seperate leases helps you out here. But if its in your living room, you have domain and control over them, and therefore could get arrested for it. Perhaps you could convince the court that there was nothing you could do about it, but good luck with that.

(I am not a lawyer, but I did have my crim law exam today and there was a question somewhat similar to this. I hope I got it right.)
Old 12-08-2002, 05:55 AM
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Melbourne, Oz
Posts: 277
Infact i think it is against the law not to call the police yourself .... ?
Old 12-08-2002, 09:07 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Chicago-ish, IL
Posts: 10,361
Well, I used to visit prisons on a former job (court interpreter), and one case invovled a woman who was in the federal pokey for conspiracy to distribute narcotics. The deal was that she was living with her boyfriend (a complete sleazeball) and four kids, and was about to kick him out because she suspected he was up to no good. One day, she was in the bathroom, and overheard a fairly major drug deal going down in her livingroom with assorted unsavory, and probably armed, firends of her boyfriend's (all4 kids were home at the time). Realizing she was in waaaaay over her head, she was trying to come up with a plan to get her family out of the apartment without any hassles with the drug cartel in her livingroom...and just then, the DEA busted in.

She's doing a mandatory minimum of 10 years, after whcih she will be deported. So either she lied to us (which I doubt, since the INS attorney present had all records of her criminal case on file and surely would have said something if she'd been misrepresenting the facts), or her claims of non-involvement got her absolutely nowhere.

I'd hope your situation would be one in which the cops would cut you more slack, since it's recreational use rather than major dealing in question. Good luck...can't you talk to your roommates and get them to take the party elsewhere, or at least not to smoke when you're home?
Old 12-08-2002, 09:44 AM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: bit bucket
Posts: 467
My recommendation?

Tell your roomies to keep the noise down when they're smoking to avoid confrontations with the law.

And i don't recommend calling the cops on them,unless you want them gone or have replacements lined up.
Being stuck with the full rent would suck.
Old 12-08-2002, 09:50 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 75,507
Unfortunately, drug use is currently considered as a crime so serious that actual innocence is not considered as a defense. Laws and police procedures have been created that guarantee that some innocent people will be convicted of crimes they never committed becuase they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You have two choices; get out of the situation you're in or stay on and hope you'll be lucky.
Old 12-08-2002, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 2,986
IANAL, Trucido, but in Indiana I think you could be busted for maintaining a common nuisance.

If I were you (since I'm me, I would be outside smoking with your friends), I would either 1.) ask an attorney or a legal services organization for advice 2.) turn in the suckers myself 3.) find new roommates or 4.) tell them to keep the noise down and use incense.
Old 12-08-2002, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Washington State
Posts: 622
State laws vary of course, so YMMV.

If the cops come in and everyone in the living room is in possession of drugs while you are safely in your room, you probably won't be busted.

If no one is home and the cops for some reason find drugs in the common area, you may very well be charged. Depending on your state laws, they may or may not have to prove that you actually knew or should have known about the drugs being present.

If you were to report them, you should be completely safe from any prosecution. You might have to worry about retribution from the users, though. And since this isn't a conspiracy crime, you shouldn't have to worry with being charged with anything just because you don't report them, if you choose not to.

Maybe the best idea would be to talk to your roommate, tell him about your concerns, and ask him to either not use at all in the apartment, or at least to only do so in his own room so you don't have to worry about legal liability.
Old 12-08-2002, 01:49 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 548
I really appreciate the responses. Further, Texas state law could be assumed to apply. Another concern in such a situation would be a sort of catch-22: around here, recreational drug use is common enough that I don't think reporting it would do any good, but it's serious enough to call down real legal trouble if stumbled across by authorities.

As for talking to such roommates, I would assume for the purposes of this question that they were people who sometimes had trouble understanding the consequences of their behavior, and could not be reasoned out of doing something they enjoyed and believed to be without harmful consequences. Again, recall the stipulated retaliation.

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