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In this unpublished opinion by the Court of Appeals, the Court upheld a possession of methamphetamine conviction at trial. You can read the whole case of People v. Pelikan here.

What Happened in the Case

Defendant Pelikan was arrested and brought to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department for booking into the jail. After Pelikan was booked and led down a hallway, deputies found some methamphetamine in the hallway where Pelikan had just walked. No meth had ever been found on Pelikan.

Pelikan was charged with possession of methamphetamine as a second habitual offender. Pelikan challenged the case in a jury trial. At trial, the jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to three years of probation. Pelikan appealed the jury trial verdict.

On Appeal

Pelikan on appeal argued there was insufficient evidence supporting the methamphetamine possession charge. Specifically, he argued that meth was never found on his possession.

In trial, sheriff’s deputies introduced a video of the booking hallway into evidence. The video at first showed a hallway where there was no methamphetamine on the floor. Then as Pelikan walks down the hallway the meth suddenly appears. The deputy also testified that he didn’t see any meth in the hallway before Pelikan walked down it. In addition, Pelikan was the last person to be transported down the hallway before the meth was discovered.

The Court’s Decision

The Court believed there was sufficient evidence to uphold the conviction. The case boiled down to circumstantial evidence. As there was no direct evidence of the methamphetamine in Pelikan’s possession, the prosecution was forced to build a case on circumstantial evidence. The Court noted that juries are allowed to make reasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence.

What is drug possession exactly? To prove possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution

must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had “dominion or right of control over

the drug with knowledge of its presence and character.” The Court believed the prosecution accomplished that here.

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Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Attorney in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.

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