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Possess means to own, occupy, physically hold, or have under one’s complete control. Some common usages of the term “possess” in a legal sense include:

  • In the context of controlled substances, cases such as this one from Nebraska, explain that “a person possesses a controlled substance when he or she knows of the nature or character of the substance and of its presence and has dominion or control over it.”
  • In the context of property, cases such as this one from Ohio, explain that “to possess a property means to use or occupy it, and the hallmark of control is the ability to admit or exclude others from the property.”
  • As explained in this case from New Jersey, possess, as used in criminal statutes, normally signifies “intentional control of a designated thing accompanied by knowledge of its character.”

See also: Possession

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]