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Louisiana v. Kelly

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Based on information provided by a confidential informant, the police officers obtained a search warrant to search a residence, known to contain a large supply of marijuana. Upon execution of the warrant, the officers found Defendant in the bathroom trying to flush twenty-one bags of marijuana packaged in dime bags down the toilet and additional evidence in the residence. Defendant was charged and convicted with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    The specific intent to distribute marijuana must be evaluated based upon the totality of the circumstances such as (1) the individuals previous attempts to distribute drugs, (2) whether the drug was in a form consistent with  the distribution, (3) the amount of the drug, (4) expert or other testimony indicating the amount found in the defendant’s possession to be inconsistent with personal use only, and (5) paraphernalia evidencing intent to distribute.

    Facts.

    Gwendolyn Minor, Co-Defendant, sold $20.00 worth of marijuana to a confidential informant at 2713 Dawson Street. A couple of days later, the informant indicated that the same address, 2713 Dawson Street, received a large amount of marijuana. Detective Godfrey obtained a search warrant to search the residence, and upon entry, the police found Defendant, Anthony Kelly, two his Defendant’s brothers, Co-Defendant, and Co-Defendant’s juvenile son (E.M.) and young daughter. Defendant and E.M. where found in upstairs with E.M.’s hands in the toilet, which Defendant was desperately trying to flush the toilet. The police officers retrieved a plastic bag, which contained twenty one smaller bags with marijuana from the toilet, partially smoked marijuana cigarettes, in plain view, on the living room table, twenty-one small bags of marijuana in Co-Defendant’s purse, rolling paper, and dime bags, used to package marijuana. Defendant alleges he did not live in the residence and was unaware that Co-Defendant was selling marijuana. The officers found Defendant’s clothes and shoes inside the residences closet and a letter to the Defendant listed with the same address. Defendant alleged that his most recent tax refund indicated a different address. Nevertheless, Defendant was charged and convicted with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Defendant solely challenges the finding the he had the specific intent to distribute marijuana, not that Defendant was in possession of marijuana.

    Issue.

    Whether a reasonable jury could find that Defendant had the specific intent to distribute the marijuana found in the residence to support his conviction.

    Held.

    Yes, a reasonable jury could find that Defendant had the specific intent to distribute the marijuana found in the residence to support his conviction.

    Discussion.

    The intent to distribute marijuana may be shown by evaluating the totality of the circumstances. Here, when the officers saw Defendant he was frantically trying to flush down the toilet a plastic bag that contained twenty-one smaller bags of marijuana. The twenty-one smaller bags of marijuana were packaged in the “Dime†bags that are commonly used to sell marijuana on the street for $10.00. The drug packaging bags were also found in the bedroom, where Defendant’s clothes and shoes were found. Likewise, the State offered an expert testimony, which concluded that the amount of marijuana packaged was inconsistent with the average amount of marijuana possessed for personal consumption. Moreover, although the State has not proffered any evidence that Defendant had sold marijuana in the past, the house in which Defendant and Co-Defendant were in was known to be a house that sold marijuana. Therefore, based on the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable jury could find that Defendant had the specific intent to distribute marijuana.



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