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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ind. Decisions - "High court overturns South Bend cocaine-near-school conviction"

The Supreme Court's decision Feb. 23rd in the case of Reynaldo A. Griffin v. State (ILB summary here) is the subject of a story today in the South Bend Tribune, reported by Jeff Parrott. Some quotes:

The Indiana Supreme Court has overturned a South Bend man’s conviction for possessing cocaine near a school, finding that prosecutors had not proven he was there more than “briefly.”

The high court also ruled that prosecutors failed to prove children were present in the area at the time.

A St. Joseph County jury in 2008 convicted Reynaldo A. Griffin, 22, of Class B felony possessing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.

At about 2:15 a.m. on June 25, 2006, South Bend police officer Keith Walker saw Griffin walking a mo-ped down the middle of Campeau Street, near Perley Elementary.

Because there had been many mo-ped thefts in the area that spring and summer, Walker approached Griffin and checked the moped’s vehicle identification number.

Observing Griffin “get more and more irate,” Walker patted him down and placed him in his patrol car while he waited for dispatch to tell him the mo-ped’s status.

While moving the mo-ped off the street, Walker said he found a plastic bag containing 0.77 grams of crack cocaine under the mo-ped.

Walker testified at trial that he had seen Griffin walking the mo-ped near the school for about five minutes before approaching him.

Cocaine possession typically is a Class D felony, punishable by six months to three years in prison. But Indiana statute allows prosecutors to upgrade the charge to a Class B felony, punishable by six to 20 years, if they can prove the defendant possessed the drug within 1,000 feet of a school.

To justify the higher charge, prosecutors must prove both that the defendant was more than “briefly” in the school zone and that children were present in the area.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 25, 2010 08:26 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions