Search
Close this search box.

Admission and proximity equals constructive possession

Facts

In 2002, Officers Shane Lang and Dustin Sanders of the Carthage Police Department stopped a vehicle driven by Carl Lewis because the vehicle did not have a tag. Jermaine Moore was a passenger in the vehicle.

As Lang approached the driver’s side of the vehicle shining his flashlight in the vehicle, he saw “a bag with a white rocky looking substance sitting upside the gear shift,” which was later determined to be cocaine. He then asked Lewis and Moore to step out of the vehicle. When Lewis stepped out of the vehicle, Lang saw another bag which contained “a green leafy substance,” later determined to be marijuana. Lang advised Lewis and Moore of their Miranda rights in the presence of Sanders, arrested them, and transported them to the Leake County Jail.

At the jail, Lang told Tony Quick, the booking officer, to charge Lewis and Moore with possession of a controlled substance. According to Lang, at that point Moore stated, “Don’t charge him [Lewis] with it, it’s mine.” Moore did not indicate which substance he was referring to.

Moore was convicted of possession of cocaine and sentenced to 15 years. On appeal, he argued he was not in possession of the drugs and his statement should have been suppressed. MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

A. Constructive possession

Moore asserts that the record is devoid of additional evidence which shows that he had either actual or constructive possession of the cocaine. He cites to MSC case Ferrell v. State, 649 So. 2d 831 (Miss. 1995), in alleging that the State must be able to point to additional incriminating evidence to justify a finding of constructive possession. Moore claims that because he was neither the owner nor the driver of the vehicle prior to his arrest, the State has not established any additional evidence in support of the charge against him.

Lang testified that (1) he found a bag of white rocky substance laying on top of the gearshift in plain view between Lewis and Moore, (2) after Lewis got out of the vehicle, he saw another bag of what was later identified as marijuana, (3) Moore was a passenger in the vehicle, and (4) when Moore and Lewis arrived at the police station to be booked on the charge of possession of a controlled substance, Moore stated, “Don’t charge him with it, it’s mine.”

Moore’s statement would appear to be an admission. An admission is an acknowledgment by the accused of certain facts which tend, together with other facts, to establish his guilt.

B. Motion to Suppress Statement

Moore alleges that his statement to Lang should have been excluded as evidence because
it was not probative of the issue raised by the indictment, i.e., possession of cocaine by Jermaine Moore.

Lang’s testimony established that cocaine and marijuana were found in the vehicle in which Moore was a passenger. When the booking officer was told to charge Moore and Lewis with drug possession, Moore voluntarily stated, “Don’t charge him with it, it’s mine.” While Moore did not specifically state whether he was referring to one or both substances, he did state a claim of possession.

Because a reasonable juror could have concluded that the substance belonged to Moore under the circumstances, we find that this issue lacks merit.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/OPINIONS/CO15426.PDF