Richard v. State, 012021 ARCA, CR-20-256

Docket NºCR-20-256
Opinion JudgeSTEPHANIE POTTER BARRETT, JUDGE.
Party NameROBIN MILLER RICHARD APPELLANT v. STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
AttorneyRobert M. Robby Golden, for appellant. Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: David L. Eanes, Jr., Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
Judge PanelHarrison, C.J., and Klappenbach, J., agree.
Case DateJanuary 20, 2021
CourtCourt of Appeals of Arkansas

2021 Ark.App. 25

ROBIN MILLER RICHARD APPELLANT

v.

STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

No. CR-20-256

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

January 20, 2021

APPEAL FROM THE LONOKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 43CR-18-549] HONORABLE BARBARA ELMORE, JUDGE.

Robert M. "Robby" Golden, for appellant.

Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: David L. Eanes, Jr., Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

STEPHANIE POTTER BARRETT, JUDGE.

Robin Richard was convicted by the Lonoke County Circuit Court of possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia.1 She was sentenced to six months in the Arkansas Department of Community Correction for each offense, with the sentences to run concurrently. On appeal, Ms. Richard argues the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions. We affirm.

At a bench trial, Ms. Richard moved to dismiss the charges arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove she possessed the methamphetamine and the drug paraphernalia. The circuit court denied Ms. Richard's motion and found her guilty of possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

An appeal from the denial of a motion to dismiss at a bench trial is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Baltimore v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 622, 535 S.W.3d 286. In reviewing challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court determines whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, either direct or circumstantial. Id. Substantial evidence is evidence forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or the other beyond suspicion or conjecture. Id. In making this determination, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, with only evidence supporting the verdict being considered. Id. This court does not weigh the evidence presented at trial nor does it assess the credibility of the witnesses as those are matters for the trier of fact, who is free to believe all or part of any witness's testimony and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony and inconsistent evidence. Nelson v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 454, 558 S.W.3d 894.

A person who possesses less than two grams of methamphetamine, including an adulterant or diluent, is guilty of a Class D felony. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-64-419(b)(1)(A) (Repl. 2016). A person who possesses drug paraphernalia with the purpose to use the drug paraphernalia to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance is guilty of a Class D felony if the controlled substance is methamphetamine. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-64-443(a)(2) (Supp. 2019).

When possession of contraband is an element of the offense, the State is not required to prove literal physical possession-constructive possession is sufficient. Knauls v. State, 2020 Ark.App. 48, 593 S.W.3d 58. Constructive possession is established by proving the defendant exercised care, control, and management over the contraband. Id. Constructive possession may be implied when the contraband is in the joint control of the defendant and another person. Id. Joint occupancy alone, however, is not sufficient to establish possession or joint possession; there must be some additional factor linking the accused to the contraband. Id. In joint-occupancy cases, the State must prove two additional elements: (1) the accused exercised care, control, and management over the contraband, and (2) the accused knew the matter...

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