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County Ct. of Ulster County v. Allen (S.Ct. 1979)


P was a passenger in an automobile stopped for speeding. Upon a search of the vehicle, two loaded hand guns were found visible in the open purse of a female minor passenger. A machine gun and over a pound of heroin were found in the trunk. A New York statute provided that, with certain exceptions, the presence of a firearm in an automobile created a permissive presumptive that the gun was possessed by all of the passengers of the automobile.


Does this presumption unconstitutionally relieve the prosecution of its burden of proof?


(Stevens, J.) If there is a “rational connection” between the fact proven and the fact presumed, and the presumed fact is “more likely than not to flow” from the proven fact, the presumption does not relieve the prosecution of its burden of proof, and does not violated due process.

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