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People v. Gory

    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.

    Facts. Appellant was a prisoner who shared living quarters with 30 other inmates. At the time in question, Appellant had only one box containing his personal effects that remained unlocked. Prison guards went through the box and discovered Marijuana. Appellant was convicted of possession of marijuana and appealed, arguing that he lacked knowledge of the marijuana’s presence and that he was prejudiced for the Judge’s failure to issue jury instruction on the same.

    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.


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