Subject who owns home is presumed to be in constructive possession


In 1995, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant on Leon Buggs‘s home in Flora, Mississippi. At Buggs’s residence, the officers discovered three matchboxes containing crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia. There were three other individuals at the house when the warrant was executed.

Buggs was convicted of possession of cocaine and sentenced to three years. On appeal, he argued he was not in possession of the drugs. MCOA affirmed.


During Buggs’s trial, the State was allowed to introduce two crack pipes, a beer can that was allegedly used to smoke crack cocaine, three matchboxes containing crack cocaine, spoons, and a Brillo pad. The trial judge found that the items were in reasonable proximity to Buggs and the paraphernalia indicated the intent to use and possess cocaine. We agree.

Defense counsel stated that when the police entered there were three other individuals in the house and the police arrested everyone. Defense counsel stated that the police found cocaine in the house, but not near any particular individual. The State was only prosecuting Buggs, despite the fact that cocaine was found in three separate places and there were other individuals arrested at that time.

In Powell v. State, 355 So. 2d 1378 (Miss. 1978), MSC said that one in possession of premises upon which contraband is found is presumed to be in constructive possession of the articles, but the presumption is rebuttable.

Where contraband is found upon premises not in the exclusive control and possession of the accused, additional incriminating facts must connect the accused with the contraband. There must be evidence, in addition to physical proximity, showing the defendant consciously exercised control over the contraband, and, absent this evidence, a finding of constructive possession cannot be sustained.

In this case, Buggs was the owner of the home and, thus, is presumed to be in constructive possession. Buggs presented evidence to overcome this presumption, mentioning the fact that there were three other occupants of the home with him. It was the prosecution’s duty to prove Buggs’s guilt of possession, and rebut Buggs’s argument that he was not in possession of the drugs.

That is exactly why the State was allowed to offer the evidence of the crack cocaine found in a box in the kitchen closet, a matchbox containing over thirty pieces of crack cocaine at his feet, a crack pipe in Buggs’s possession, and other paraphernalia. The paraphernalia was evidence for the jury to determine whether Buggs had possession and control over the crack cocaine.

Under all the facts, there was enough evidence to show that Buggs had control over some of the crack cocaine, it was not just brought in with the other individuals who were present during the search. We find no merit to these arguments.