Thursday, January 22, 2009

Giving It The Old Heave Ho

State v. Taylor, no. 07-1186 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 22, 2009)

Taylor's car was stopped on 63rd Street in Des Moines  for failure to display license plates.  After his girlfriend showed up with his insurance card, he was asked to step out of his car. Taylor then drove off and was chased to the corner of SW Creston and 63rd street where he wiped out and fled on foot.

Nobody saw him throw anything from the vehicle, and nothing of an incriminating nature was found in the car. Another officer who had not witnessed the Taylor vehicle's line of travel saw a baggie in the road between skidmarks and 25 feet behind Taylor's car which contained 12.7 grams of crack.

Taylor was convicted of possession with intent to deliver and tax stamp violations. 

He appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the element of possession of the contraband.

The court of appeals found that there was insufficient evidence to show either actual or constructive possession of the narcotics, because the fact that a defendant drove the car was not sufficient to find constructive possession of the contraband. Where the facts only show non exclusive possession of the premises and raw physical ability to exercise control the state was required to provide additional proof of constructive possession. 

Although Taylor did offer to cooperate with police it could not link him to the drugs found in the street.

The object lesson is clear. Tie the suspect to the contraband, either visually or verbally or risk losing the case. 


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