Attorney Matt Kroes is fresh off a big win in the Indiana Court of Appeals, where an appellate panel reversed his client’s conviction for possession of marijuana. Upon review, the Court of Appeals found that the State did not present enough evidence to support a conviction.
At trial, the prosecution brought in a number of witnesses to address both the DUI / OVWI charge and the possession of marijuana charge. The arresting officers gave testimony along the lines of, I’ve been to college, I’ve been through academy training, and I know how to spot marijuana. This was good enough for the trial court judge.
It was not, however, good enough for the Court of Appeals. The appellate panel reminded the State that under Indiana law, the only difference between legal hemp and illegal marijuana is that the latter has a concentration of delta-9-THC greater than 0.3%.
Considering that the distinction comes down to chemical analysis, it’s no longer enough for the prosecution to simply rely on an officer’s training and experience to identify a suspicious substance. If the State doesn’t have the lab analysis to prove that a given substance is marijuana, it can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person possessed marijuana.
This was a big win, but it took a criminal appeal to get there. Attorney Kroes made these arguments at trial, but the judge was used to trusting the testimony of officers. The State has been able to coast on assumptions for a long time, and prosecutors and trial judges are just starting to catch up.
The attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm don’t quit just because a verdict comes back GUILTY. They’re willing to appeal, and when necessary, they’re willing to call the State’s bluff. If you or anyone you know is charged with marijuana possession, give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!