South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Knowledge of Use of Substance in Making Illegal Drugs Must Be Shown for Conviction
Description Appeals court reversed a conviction of a gas station worker convicted of selling pseudoephedrine, a legal drug used in making methamphetamine. The government failed to show that the worker knew the substance would be used in that manner. Mere possession and sale of pseudoephedrine was not sufficient for conviction.
Topic Criminal Law
Key Words Evidence; Reasonable Cause; Possession; Distribution
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Troung worked at a Texaco station and convenience store. A customer bought a bottle containing 1,000 pseudoephedrine, which is a legal substance used in making methamphetamine. The customer was arrested on drug charges and told police Troung sold him the pills. The police searched the store and found 43,000 pseudoephedrine pills in inventory. He was charged and convicted of possession and distribution of the pills, which can be used in making methamphetamine. He appealed.
Decision

Reversed. To obtain a conviction for possessing and distributing psuedoephedrine while knowing, intending, or having reasonable cause to believe it would be used to make meth, it is not sufficient for the government to prove that the defendant was negligent or reckless with respect to the risk that the pseudoeophedrine he sold. The government must show that there is a reasonable cause to believe that defendant knows it will be used in making the illegal drug. That was not done, so the conviction is overturned.

Citation U.S. v. Troung, ---F.3d--- (2005 WL 2644962, 10th Cir., 2005)

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