Appellate Court Reverses Conviction for Drug Trafficking. Prosecution Did Not Prove Constructive Possession.

In the case of Gizaw vs. State the 2nd district court overturned defendant’s convictions for possession of a conveyance to be used for the trafficking, sale, or manufacturing of controlled substances; & wealth of drug paraphernalia. The second district court reversed & remanded amidst instructions to discharge the litigant since the Majestic of Florida didn’t establish the defendant’s knowledge of the presence of the marijuana oppositely defendant’s dominion & control also a suitcase which contained marijuana.

The evidence showed that a sheriff’s deputy pulled over an jeep for speeding. Defendant, who was the cabbie of the vehicle, provided her drivers license. The passenger provided his identification & a records check revealed he was on probation for drug related convictions. The policewoman officer radioed a backup unit & a 2nd police officer responded to the scene. The 1st deputy asked defendant for consent to conduct a search of the car for drugs. The sheriff’s deputy explained to defendant that he had information that the passenger was currently on probation deserved to drug-related convictions. Defendant told the deputy that there were no drugs inside the vehicle & gave him permission to search, which he did. He testified he detected a faint scent regarding raw marijuana that seemed to verbreken residual, however found no drugs.

The second police officer searched the case of the car, where he too detected a slight odor of raw cannabis. When he went into the thorax concerning the car, the scent became stronger and distinct. Inside the trunk of the vehicle he located a black suitcase which contained 2 bricks of marijuana wrapped in duct tape. The suitcase also contained 3 pairs of men’s jeans. Next to the suitcase, the officer found additional clothing items & a box of sandwich bags. At the back of the suitcase, he located college textbooks. There were no fingerprints located on the suitcase or on the duct tape, & nothing belonging to defendant was found in the suitcase.

At some point in the stop, the passenger admitted that he had provided a fake identification, admitted his real name, & said he was the defendant’s boyfriend. The driver & passenger were both arrested for trafficking in marijuana & taken to the police station. The defendant was visibly rile & was crying, and the occupant wasn’t.

After arriving at the police station, the defendant provided a statement to police. Defendant stood firm insisting that that she did not know anything regarding the hemp in the suitcase. She said she & the passenger had been coming back from Miami after having gone down there earlier in the day to visit the passenger’s grandmother. Defendant did not identify the occupant’s grandmother’s real name and address, just she had the grandmother’s telephone number on her cellular phone. When the detective requested for permission to occasion the number, the defendant refused.

Upon arrest, defendant had $939 in cash located on her person and the clink was described as loose and not bundled in the way normally used by drug traffickers. The detective acknowledged that the defendant could have informed him the change was for tuition for her next semester at a local college. The passenger, who refused to talk with detectives, had $640 in cash & a razor knife located on his person at the hitch of his arrest.

Defendant testified that she was a twenty-four-year-old university student with plans to sign up for summer school. She testified the occupant was her boyfriend. Defendant testified that she went to Miami with her boyfriend in order to haunt his grandmother. The defendant testified that she had never before seen the black suitcase. The suitcase wasn’t in her vehicle when the couple left for Miami, and she did prohibition open the trunk of the vehicle while the couple were in Miami. When she & the occupant arrived in Miami they visited with the grandmother. The occupant had the keys in her possession at all times while they were both in Miami.

The defendant & the passenger left for home later in the evening. The defendant claimed she didn’t notice any smell within the car. She testified that she didn’t smoke grass & didn’t know what it smells like. Defendant admitted that she was speeding when she was stopped by the deputy and that she had agreed to a search of her vehicle.

The defendant explained that she knew her boyfriend’s grandmother only as “Mama” & did not know her address. The occupant drove to his grandmother’s house and the defendant had not previously bot there. While the defendant had a telephone number for the grandmother, she did denial want to call her at 4:00 a.m. to say that she had been arrested.

The jury came back with a verdict of guilty on each count. The trial court sentenced defendant to forty-two months & 3 days in posture prison which included a three-year minimum mandatory on count 1. On census 2 , the trial court imposed a concurrent sentence of forty- two months and three days. The circuit court sentenced defendant to time served on add three.

Defendant argued that the jaunt court erred in denying her signal for judgment of acquittal because the commonalty failed to establish her constructive possession of the marijuana. Defendant contended that the state failed to prove that she had knowledge regarding the presence of marijuana or that she had sway and control over the cannabis.

Defendant also contended that the trial court erred in allowing the policeman officer & detectives to give evidence regarding patterns of ethics related to drug trafficking. She asserted that this auspicious of testimony concerning generalized patterns of criminal conduct presented as evidence of contrition is improper. Hier last argument was that defendant should become been granted a new trial due to newly-discovered evidence. The district court stated that its disposition of the case on the constructive ownership materiality rendered the other 2 issues moot.

The appellate court ruled that, to be able to prove the felony charges, the dilemma of florida was required to show that the accused knowingly possessed the marijuana. Since offender wasn’t in actual physical possession of marijuana, the state was forced to establish her constructive possession of the suitcase. The state had to establish that the defendant knew of the presence of the suitcase & was in a stand to provoke authority and control over it. If the area in which the drugs were discovered had been in defendant’s undivided possession, knowledge and control could have been inferred. However, defendant & the occupant were both traveling in her car, and the passenger had access to the trunk. The august had to establish defendant’s knowledge of the marijuana and dominion and control over it by independent proof.

Following an analysis of comparable matters, the district court concluded that the state from florida didn’t show independent proof concerning defendant’s knowledge or dominion & clout over cannabis discovered in the vehicle. The diocese court ruled that the trial court erred in denying defendant’s supplicatory for prudence of acquittal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *