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Man's Role in Transporting Unopened Box of Cannabis Enough to Support Drug Conviction

The Illinois Appellate Court recently affirmed the conviction of a man who transported an unopened FedEx package that contained cannabis inside it. The court's ruling declared that, in some cases, an accused person's suspicious behavior "in the vicinity" of illegal drugs can be enough to prove knowledge that the drugs were present.

The Illinois Appellate Court recently affirmed the conviction of a man who transported an unopened FedEx package that contained cannabis inside it. The court's ruling declared that, in some cases, an accused person's suspicious behavior "in the vicinity" of illegal drugs can be enough to prove knowledge that the drugs were present.

Antwan Jones' criminal case began when FedEx employees identified a package at the local Kankakee County FedEx facility as suspicious. FedEx notified law enforcement, who opened the package and discovered that the package contained cannabis. They then placed the drugs and a tracking device in the box and resealed the package, which was addressed to the home of Jones' father's girlfriend, Katherine Kemp.

When the police completed their bust regarding the cannabis, the package was in the lap of Jones, who was riding in a car driven by Latifah Starks. Jones claimed that he believed the package contained a pair of shoes he'd purchased or alternately was something wrongfully delivered to Kemp's home. Regardless, Jones asserted he did not know what was actually in the box.

Jones's testimony was not believed, and he was convicted. Jones appealed, arguing that the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew the box contained illegal drugs. The man pointed to several previous appellate cases where the courts said that "suspicious behavior in the vicinity of narcotics will not suffice as proof of knowledge as to their presence." The court in this case, however, found those cases unpersuasive, ruling that, while suspicious behavior in the vicinity of illegal drugs is not, by itself, enough to prove the other elements of a drug crime, it is enough for proving knowledge.

In Jones' case, the state had enough evidence of suspicious behavior to support a finding that he knew what was in the box. During one 18-minute window of time, Jones took a call from Kemp, called Starks to direct her to meet him at Kemp's home, met with Starks at Kemp's home, and took off with the package. "This sort of effort, whether to obtain a pair of shoes or to return another person's package to FedEx, is suspect," the court deduced.

Further weakening Jones' case was the road map of the area of which he asked the trial court to take judicial notice. Starks was driving southbound when the police arrested her. Unfortunately for Jones, the FedEx facility to which he claimed he was returning the package was located to the northeast of the Kemp residence.

The man also unsuccessfully took issue with the state's closing argument, where the prosecutor created the implication that Starks knew what was in the box. Starks had spent the day in question with her mother in the hospital and only left her mother's bedside when she received Jones' text. The clear implication was that Starks would not have left her mother's side to help Jones pick up a pair of shoes, even if they were the latest Air Jordans.

If you're facing a drug charge, you should consider the advantages of having knowledgeable and aggressive counsel representing you. The experienced DuPage County drug defense attorneys at Martin & Kent can help with your drug case. Our attorneys have the skill and determination you need to ensure you have the best defense possible.

Contact us online or by calling (888) 388-9151 to schedule your confidential initial consultation at no charge.

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