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Missouri v. Paul

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Paul was arrest for possessing controlled substance, and challenges the trial courts holding on the grounds that the she did not have knowledge of the controlled substance.

    Facts.

    On November 22, 2011, Chief Glen Garton and Officer Dennis Banks of the Lathrop police department, were at Paul, Defendant’s residence for an unrelated matter. When the officers arrived, Chief Garton identified himself, and Paul invited the officers in. Chief Garton observed on Paul’s Kitchen table a burnt end of a marijuana cigarette in the ashtray. Chief Garton seized the cigarette, and the lab report concluded that it contained .03 grams of synthetic cannabinoid. The State charged Paul with a class A misdemeanor of possession of a controlled substance. Paul appealed alleging that the she did not have “knowledge of the nature of the drug found in her home.†Paul presented evidence that she had a party in her home, and she allowed her friends to burn the product Mr. Happy, a cigarette, as incense because the packaged stated it was “one hundred percent legal.â€

    Issue.

    Whether the trial court erred in holding that Paul had knowledge of the controlled substance found in her home.

    Held.

    No, based on the evidence, Paul had knowledge that the substance in her home was a controlled substance.

    Discussion.

    To convict an individual for possession of a controlled substance, the State has the burden to prove “(1) conscious and intentional possession of the substance, either actual or constructive; and (2) awareness of the presence and nature of the substance.â€Â  The second element is at issue in this case. Paul suggest that because the substance was substance, at the time of the incident was not illegal, the State failed to prove its burden that she had knowledge. However, the court found that the legal or illegal status of the controlled substance is not relevant as to whether she had knowledge of the possession of it. Also, Paul asserts that the cigarette was solely used for incense purposes. The court reject this argument as well because it fails to show a lack of knowledge of the substances general character, as it was found in a rolled up paper, the manner commonly used to smoke.  Lastly, the court rejects Paul’s argument regarding the legality of the product on the grounds that Paul was not under the impression that the product, Mr. Happy, was simply incense.



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