Equal Access Rule Law and Legal Definition

Equal access rule refers to a legal doctrine stating that contraband found on a defendant’s premises will not support a conviction if other persons have the same access to the premises as the defendant. If contraband is not in an open, notorious, and equally accessible area, the equal access rule does not apply. However, this rule is not invoked as to persons who visit the premises prior to the search unless they are shown to have been on the premises either previously or frequently so as to have equal access with the defendant.

The equal access rule may sometimes apply to the driver of a vehicle. It is not applicable where the jury is never charged on the presumption that defendant was in possession of the contraband because s/he was driving the truck. The equal access rule applies to overcome such a presumption, and, where the jury is not charged as to such a presumption regarding the defendant, the equal access rule is not applicable. [Graham v. State, 242 Ga. App. 361 (Ga. Ct. App. 2000).