COA reverses drug conviction due to lack of intent

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The state did not have sufficient evidence to convict a man of possession of cocaine under the intent prong of constructive possession, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. As a result, the judges reversed the defendant’s drug conviction.

In Michael R. Houston v. State of Indiana, 02A03-1303-CR-84, police pulled over a car Michael Houston was driving, which contained three passengers. Houston was not the owner of the car and did not have a valid license. The license plate belonged to a different car, so police towed the car. While inventorying the vehicle, police found cocaine in a baggie between the passenger seat and the center console area. A vial was also found in the center console area, which Houston claimed was urine. The owner of the car, who was in the back seat at the time of the stop, said it was “anointing oil” used by his church.

Houston was charged with and convicted of Class D felony possession of cocaine. Because Houston didn’t have direct physical control over the drug in the car, the state had to prove constructive possession of it. But the evidence presented by the state couldn’t support that Houston had the intent to maintain dominion and control over the drug, the Court of Appeals held. No evidence was introduced that Houston knew about the drug, he did not attempt to flee, and he denied presence of the drug in the car.

The state argued that Houston’s knowledge of the vial in the center console shows he knew of the drug in the car, but there was no evidence showing the vial was connected to the cocaine in any way, the judges ruled.


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  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon