COA: Needles near bottle cap support drug conviction

July 26, 2016

A defendant was unable to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the evidence was insufficient to conclude that he intended to use the two syringe needles found in his clothes to inject heroin.

Lamont Perkins was convicted of drug charges after he returned to Marion County Community Corrections and was found with drug paraphernalia. Officers were searching his clothes when they discovered two syringe needles and a bottle cap with heroin residue in a Newport cigarette pack that Perkins had brought with him.

At a bench trial, he was convicted of one count Level 5 felony possession of a narcotic drug, one count Level 5 felony escape, and one count of Level 6 felony possession of paraphernalia with a prior conviction.

Perkins subsequently challenged his conviction of possession of paraphernalia. In part, he argued the state was required to prove he intended to use the syringe needles to ingest the heroin but it failed to offer evidence of track marks on his arms or evidence of past drug use.

The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in Lamont Perkins v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1511-CR-1955, finding that intent to introduce a controlled substance into one’s body may be inferred from circumstantial evidence.

Citing Dabner v. State, 258 Ind. 179, 279 N.E.2d 797, 798-99 (1972), Stevens v. State, 257 Ind. 386, 388-89, 275 N.E.2d 12, 13 (1971), and Von Hauger v. State, 255 Ind. 666, 668, 266 N.E.2d 197, 198 (1971), the appellate court found the evidence was sufficient.  

In the Perkins case, Senior Judge John Sharpnack wrote for the court, “the controlled substance (heroin) is not in or on the syringe needles. However, it was found in the bottle cap secreted in the same container as the syringe needles. That is sufficient to support the inference that the syringe needles were intended to be used to inject a controlled substance into the defendant’s body.”



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