United States v. Jewell

532 F.2d 697 (9th Cir. 1976)



When knowledge of the existence of a particular fact is an element of an offense, such knowledge is established if a person is aware of a high probability of its existence, unless he actually believes that it does not exist.


Defendant was convicted of possessing marihuana, a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C.S. § 841(a)(1). At trial, the jury was instructed that violation of the statute required specific intent and that "knowledge" under the statute did not require that defendant had "positive knowledge" that a controlled substance was involved. On appeal, the court affirmed.


Is positive knowledge required for cases relating to possession of controlled substances?




The court also held that "knowledge" under § 841(a)(1) encompassed not only "positive knowledge" but also "deliberate ignorance." Thus, evidence demonstrating that defendant was aware of the involvement of controlled substances, but consciously avoided "positive knowledge," allowed a jury conviction of defendant. Since there was evidence demonstrating that defendant deliberately avoided positive knowledge of the presence of controlled substances, defendant's conviction was affirmed.

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