Actress Rose McGowan has entered a plea of not guilty to allegations of drug possession. The allegation stems from bags of powder that were found in her wallet left on a plane. In Illinois, the possession, sale or trafficking of cocaine is a felony.
McGowan is one of the women who came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. After The New Yorker published multiple accounts of allegations of harassment and assault, McGowan came forward alleging that Weinstein had raped her.
The actress has expressed concerns via social media that the charge is an attempt to silence her. She has stated that if she had never gone public with her story, the charges would have been dropped. Reportedly, when an airport detective called her to retrieve her wallet, she was afraid that he was not actually a detective. She later turned herself in after an arrest warrant was issued.
McGowan and her attorney allege that she left her bag and wallet unattended on the plane and that she filed a lost luggage claim when she realized the wallet was missing.
Possession of cocaine is a serious crime under both state and federal laws. Possible penalties may include fines, probation, incarceration and community service. To sustain a conviction in a criminal case for possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must prove that the person accused was in possession or control of the substance.
If the defendant was not in actual possession or control of the illegal substance, the state may attempt to prove constructive possession, which exists when a person does not have actual physical control over an item but has knowledge and the ability to control it. In this case, the items containing the alleged illegal substance were not found in McGowan’s actual possession but in an item investigators believed belonged to her.