Request to Instruct the Jury About the Duty to Prove Knowledge of Drug Possession
In Chicone v. State, 684 So. 2d 736 (Fla. 1996), the defendant was convicted of possession of cocaine.
The trial court refused Chicone's request to instruct the jury that the State had to prove he knew the substance he possessed was cocaine.
On review, this Court held that guilty knowledge is part of the statutory offense charged. Id. at 738.
The Court rejected the argument that Medlin stood for the proposition that guilty knowledge is not an element of possession and held that the relevant statutes expressly required that the defendant knowingly possess a controlled substance.
In Chicone, the State was required to prove the defendant knew of the illicit nature of the items in his or her possession, and the existing jury instructions had to adequately state the "knowledge of the presence of the substance" element Id. at 745.
However, the trial court was only required to "expressly indicate to jurors that guilty knowledge means the defendant must have knowledge of the illicit nature of the substance allegedly possessed" if "specifically requested by a defendant." Id. at 745-46.