Drug Convictions Overturned Where Drugs Were Found in Girlfriend's Home

In the case of Thomas Smith versus the State of Florida, Mr. Smith was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and possession of chemicals used to make methamphetamine.

The case began when the police executed a search warrant at a home that was leased by a woman named Kelly Jiminez. The police found a Gatorade bottle containing methamphetamine as well as chemicals used to make methamphetamine. Both Smith and Jiminez were at home when the police executed the warrant. One of those officers later testified at Smith's trial that he believed the apartment belonged to Jiminez and that she was Smith's girlfriend.

The prosecutor relied on the following pieces of evidence to prove that Smith lived in Jiminez' home and therefore had control over the methamphetamine and the chemicals used to make methamphetamine:

1. One athletic shoe size 11 or 11 1/2 that was located on top of a bookcase in a bedroom.

2. A picture found on a nightstand located in another bedroom which showed two men, one of whom was wearing a gas mask and holding a Gatorade bottle containing a white substance that might have been methamphetamine.

3. A gas mask found on a shelf in the same bookcase where the athletic shoe was located.

Smith was convicted of the drug charges. However, the Court of Appeals found that:

a. There was nothing unusual about Jiminez having a picture of her boyfriend located on her nightstand.

b. The fact that the man in the picture was holding a Gatorade bottle that might have contained methamphetamine was not evidence that Smith had control over the bottle that the police found during the search, which the evidence showed was actually a different bottle.

c. The fact that Smith posed for a photo wearing a gasmask similar to the one found by the police did not prove that he lived in Jiminez' house on the day the police entered because no evidence was presented showing when or where that picture was taken.

d. The existence of a single shoe on the top shelf of the bookcase also did not prove that Smith lived in Jiminez' house the day the police executed the search warrant.

Because the prosecutor's evidence did not prove that Smith had what the law calls "dominion and control" over the methamphetamine and chemicals, the Court of Appeals reversed Smith's convictions.

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