How Can Residue On My Pipe Lead to a Possession Charge? I Smoked ALL of it!

crack pipe.jpgYes, these issues do come up here in Orlando. One particularily interesting Florida case happened in the parking lot of a gas station, where defendant Michael Quick was frisked by a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy. The frisking revealed a glass pipe (commonly referred to as “drug paraphernalia”) in his pocket, and Quick admitted to using the pipe to smoke crack cocaine the day before, but said he did not possess anymore crack. Frankly, I believe him, because most folks that smoke crack are going to smoke every last bit of it, saving nothing for later. After 17+ years of criminal defense, I’d say his statement had an air of truth to it. He even told police “If there was any more, believe me, I would have gotten it.” How about that for honesty?

The case was Quick v. State, 35 FLW D2541 (4th DCA, 11/3/2010). Mr. Quick’s honesty didn’t pay off, as he was found guilty of both Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of Cocaine and given 40 months in prison, can you believe that? Your taxpayer dollars hard at work, that’s at least $25,000 a year that won’t go to textbooks or healthcare. But anyway, the Possession of Cocaine conviction is the odd ball here, because the only cocaine found was the residue on the pipe itself. At trial, a lab tech testified that the pipe contained trace amounts of cocaine (to which I usually reply, “so do the dollar bills in your back pocket”). The defense argued at trial that the defendant did not know he was possessing cocaine, and knowledge is an affirmative defense to such allegations. The trial court did not even allow the defense a jury instruction regarding his lack of knowledge, claiming that the defendant conceded that he knew cocaine was illegal.

Fortunately, the appeals court overturned Mr. Quick’s conviction and has granted him a new trial, due to the fact that the trial could should have allowed a jury instruction regarding his affirmative defense that he thought there wasn’t cocaine on the pipe. Without Mr. Quick’s honest testimony, they never would have overturned the conviction. Honesty turned out to be the best policy for Mr. Quick, but you know I’m always concerned that anything you say can and will be misquoted, then used against you in a court of law. Before opening your mouth to the police, call a good Orlando criminal defense attorney.