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Adkins applies to drug possession defense

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While the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously agreed a defendant charged with possessing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school only has the burden of placing the issue of statutory defense in question where the state's evidence hasn't done so, the court split in affirming the defendant's possession conviction.

In Reynaldo A. Griffin v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-0805-CR-260, Reynaldo Griffin was on foot when he was stopped in front of a school by a police officer who suspected the moped he was pushing was stolen. The officer discovered crack cocaine beneath the moped where Griffin stopped it. He was convicted of possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of school property, a Class D felony enhanced because he was near a school; Griffin argued pursuant to Indiana Code Section 34-48-4-16(b) in his defense that he was only briefly near the school and there were no children present.

The appellate court applied the ruling in Adkins v. State, 887 N.E.2d 934 (Ind. 2008), and ruled Indiana Code Section 34-48-4-16(b) constitutes a mitigating factor that reduces culpability and therefore a defendant doesn't have the burden of proof but only the burden of placing the issue in question where the state's evidence doesn't do so, wrote Senior Judge John Sharpnack.

 "Once the defense is at issue, the State must rebut the defense by proving beyond a reasonable doubt either that the defendant was within 1000 feet of a public park more than 'briefly' or that persons under the age of eighteen at least three years junior to the defendant were within 1000 feet of the school property," wrote the senior judge.

 Although there is no "ironclad" rule as to what constitutes as a brief presence by a school, the majority held the jury's determination that Griffin wasn't briefly within 1,000 feet of the school was reasonable under the circumstances of the case. Since the state had sufficient evidence to rebut Griffin's defense, his conviction was affirmed.
 
Judge Ezra Friedlander dissented only regarding Griffin's conviction. Judge Friedlander wrote that based on the evidence, he would conclude the jury's determination to be unreasonable. The police officer estimated Griffin was in front of the school walking for about five minutes; traveling from 1,000 feet beyond a school can't take much less than five minutes when pushing a moped, the judge wrote. Also, there was no indication that if he hadn't been stopped, Griffin would have been within 1,000 feet of the school any longer than it took him to walk by it. Judge Friedlander would reduce the Class D felony conviction and remand for re-sentencing.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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