To be convicted of a crime in Florida, the state must present proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, this means that jurors must have a firm conviction that you are guilty before they can vote to convict.
This principle was central to a recent appellate court decision in Florida. At issue was whether the criminal defendant “possessed” drugs found at a gas station, and the state’s evidence was very weak. Although the defendant was convicted at trial, the appellate court reversed one of the convictions for lack of evidence.
Facts of the Case
While investigating a shoot-out that involved two vehicles at a gas station, police searched the station property and found a cocktail shaker cup lying next to a fence. The cup was stuffed with marijuana.
On the other side of town, police stopped a car with three people inside that police believed had been involved in the shootout. One of the men, Darafeal McKire, was seated in the back seat. When he emerged, he was bleeding from a gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital. In the back seat of the car, police found a bag of cocaine with traces of blood on it near the location where Mr. McKire had been seated.
Based on this evidence, police charged McKire with possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana. Security video at the gas station showed McKire emerging from a car at the gas station and dropping two objects on the ground before the shootout started. After one car departed, McKire got back into his vehicle, which then drove away. At trial, he was convicted of both possession counts.
On appeal, the court overturned the conviction for possession of the marijuana found at the gas station. First, the court held that it was not clear from the video evidence that McKire had dropped a shaker cup with marijuana in it. Second, the location where he dropped his objects did not line up with the location where police found the shaker cup against the fence.
The appellate court also rejected the government’s argument that McKire had possession of the objects simply because he was in close physical proximity to the marijuana. Indeed, the court noted that the defendant was not found anywhere near the marijuana and was not making any moves toward it. In fact, he was found across town, emerging from a vehicle while bleeding. For all of these reasons, the court overturned the conviction and acquitted him of the marijuana possession charge. His conviction for possession of the cocaine, however, still stands.
Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
As this case shows, the state is very aggressive prosecuting drug crimes and often brings charges with very little evidentiary support. If you have been arrested, you need an aggressive drug possession attorney who can fight back against these charges.
At Moses & Rooth, we have represented many defendants in drug cases, and we know how to win. For more information about whether we can help you, please reach out to us today. We offer a free consultation. All you need to do is call 407-377-0150.