ILNews

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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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