State v. Mansir

Decision Date13 January 1982
Citation440 A.2d 6
PartiesSTATE of Maine v. Ronald MANSIR.
CourtMaine Supreme Court

David M. Cox, Dist. Atty., Gary F. Thorne, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Bangor, for plaintiff.

Julio DeSanctis, III (orally), Bangor, for defendant.


WATHEN, Justice.

Ronald Mansir appealed from a judgment entered in Superior Court (Penobscot County) on his conviction by a jury of two counts of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1103. 1 Defendant argues that he was acting only as the procuring agent of an undercover agent and that the presiding justice should have instructed the jury on that defense. He further argues that because the evidence shows his conduct to be that of a procuring agent, it is insufficient to establish the offense of trafficking. We deny the appeal.

In November 1979 a Division of Special Investigations undercover agent, Kenneth MacMaster, asked defendant if he had any marijuana for sale. Defendant replied that he did not and asked if MacMaster had a car. Defendant indicated that a Michael Cochran had marijuana so they drove to Cochran's residence. When they arrived MacMaster asked the price of a "dime bag" of marijuana and if defendant could get him some "tea" (phencyclidine). Defendant told MacMaster that the marijuana would be $20.00 and that Cochran had phencyclidine for sale for $2.00 a tablet. MacMaster gave defendant two twenty dollar bills and defendant entered the house, returning a short time later with the drugs, which he gave to MacMaster.

At trial the presiding justice instructed the jury on trafficking, on the lesser included offense of furnishing scheduled drugs and on the law of accomplices. Defendant contends, however, that the court should also have instructed

that the defendant may not be found guilty of the offense of trafficking in drugs if he was acting as an agent of the purchaser rather than the seller. 2

Although we realize that the procuring agent defense to charges of selling narcotics has been accepted in other jurisdictions, see, e.g., United States v. Barcella, 432 F.2d 570 (1st Cir. 1970); Jones v. State, 481 P.2d 169 (Okla.Crim. 1971); Commonwealth v. Harvard, 356 Mass. 452, 253 N.E.2d 346 (1969), the proposed instruction is not appropriate under the Maine Criminal Code.

In 1972 we considered and expressly rejected the procuring agent defense in a prosecution for sale of narcotics under 22 M.R.S.A. § 2362 (1965), a predecessor of the current statute. 3 In State v. Allen, Me., 292 A.2d 167 (1972) we refused to circumscribe our drug laws by the usage of concepts from the law of commerce. We also rejected the premise that characterizing a person as an agent of the buyer rather than of the seller could negate culpability when in effect that person was still participating in the illegal distribution of drugs. Focusing instead on the prohibited conduct, the Allen Court found an illegal sale "to include the transfer of any narcotic drug from one person to another, for a price or without recompense, to the extent of embracing within the intended meaning the mere offer to transfer." Id. at 171.

Although Section 2362 no longer exists, the legislative intent to punish the broad range of activities included in the prior construction of sale remains. The Maine Criminal Code differs only in that the transfer of scheduled drugs for consideration, trafficking under 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1103, is treated as a more serious crime for sentencing purposes than furnishing, the transfer or delivery of scheduled drugs without consideration that is proscribed by 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1106. We need not here decide the extent to which Allen retains vitality under the code's recognition of degrees of culpability depending on the nature of the transfer. In the present case the trial justice properly instructed the jury on the elements of trafficking, furnishing and accomplice liability. Based upon such instructions, the jury is presumed to have found that Mansir sold drugs for his own benefit or acted for the purpose of aiding the seller.

Under the accomplice formulations set forth in 17-A M.R.S.A. § 52(2)(c) and (3)(A), the defendant is legally accountable for the conduct (sale) of another when the defendant aided such other person in committing the crime (sale) with the intent of facilitating the commission of the crime (sale). Thus, the proposed procuring agent instruction herein was incomplete and misleading. Whether the defendant acted as an agent of the purchaser is irrelevant, if at the same time the defendant in fact aided the seller with the intent of facilitating the sale.


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4 cases
  • People v. Cattaneo
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 1990
    ...140 Ga.App. 166, 230 S.E.2d 124, 127, vacated by 238 Ga. 200, 232 S.E.2d 71, reaffirmed in 141 Ga.App. 665, 234 S.E.2d 132; State v. Mansir (Me.1982) 440 A.2d 6, 7.) Defendant, citing People v. Beeman (1984) 35 Cal.3d 547, 560, 199 Cal.Rptr. 60, 674 P.2d 1318, argues that the prosecutor was......
  • State v. Deering
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • July 14, 1992
    ...could have found that the defendant acted on behalf of the seller of narcotics. State v. Cote, 444 A.2d 34, 37 (Me.1982); State v. Mansir, 440 A.2d 6, 7 (Me.1982); State v. Allen, 292 A.2d 167, 171-72 (Me.1972). Second, Deering argues that the court erred by failing to define the words "tra......
  • State v. Davis, CUM-96-91
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • May 27, 1997
    ...of another when the defendant aids such other person in committing the crime with the intent of facilitating the crime. State v. Mansir, 440 A.2d 6, 7 (Me.1982). ¶10 We reject Davis's contention that there is insufficient evidence to find him guilty of trafficking because he did not receive......
  • State v. Cote
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • March 2, 1982
    ...because the jury could have found on the facts of the case that the defendant had acted on behalf of the sellers. See State v. Mansir, Me., 440 A.2d 6, 7 (1982). Because we have already stated in this opinion that the jury could have found that the defendant in this case had acted as an acc......

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