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United States v. Nevils

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Nevils appealed a possession conviction on claims of insufficiency of evidence after he unknowingly woke up to firearms leaning against his body in the presence of law enforcement.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    An individual cannot be charged of possession when they honestly did not know or have reason to know that they were in possession of a controlled substance.

    Facts.

    Nevils was charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition when he got drunk and was brought to an adjacent apartment to sleep it off. The apartment did not have any firearms when Nevils arrived at the apartment, but when police officers arrived Nevils was seen laying down with two guns leaning against his body. Nevils appealed his possession conviction.

    Issue.

    Whether an individual can be charged of possession when they honestly did not know or have reason to know that they were in possession of a controlled substance?

    Held.

    No. Nevils conviction is overturned due to insufficient evidence. Nevils being in the presence of the firearms was beyond his control,Nevils was put into a situation where he was placed in the possession of firearms.

    Dissent.

    (Bybee, J.) Nevils conviction should be upheld because he was arrested three weeks prior for parole violation. Although someone may have placed the firearms on Nevils body, Nevil could have likely possessed the firearms.

    Discussion.

    An individual can be charged with possession if they are knowingly in possession of a controlled substance. The person does not need to know that the substance is a controlled substance, but the person needs to know that they are in possession of the substance.


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