Brief Fact Summary. Appellant Gory was convicted of possessing marijuana. On appeal, Appellant argued that knowledge was an essential element of the crime.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Knowledge of the existence of the object is essential to physical control of it and thus essential to the crime of possession of marijuana.
The essence of the offense is, knowledge of the presence of the object as embraced within the concept of physical control with the intent to exercise such control, which constitutes the possession denounced by the statute.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether knowledge was an element of the crime of possession of marijuana.
Held. Judgment reversed, Appellant is entitled to a new trial.
In every crime or public offense there must exist a union, or joint operation of act and intent, but this does not mean that a positive, willful intent to violate the law is an essential ingredient of every offense.
Knowledge of the existence of the object is essential to physical control of it and thus essential to the crime of possession of marijuana.
Concurrence. The concurring Justice argued that mere consciousness of an object, without knowing its true character is sufficient under the statute to constitute possession of marijuana.
Discussion. The Court stated that Appellant was entitled to a new trial because a jury instruction was not read regarding the definition and meaning of “possession”. The Court found that possession meant that Appellant had knowledge that he was in fact, in possession of marijuana. The Court ruled Appellant was prejudiced because the jury remained improperly instructed on a fact that was determinative on Appellant’s guilt or innocence.