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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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