The Trial Courts Denial of Defendants Request Was a Reversible Error

In Scott v. State, 808 So. 2d 166 (Fla. 2002), the defendant was convicted of possession of contraband in a correctional facility. At trial, Scott's theory of defense had been that he did not possess the contraband and had no knowledge of its presence in his locker where it was found. He requested an instruction pursuant to Chicone that the guilty knowledge element includes knowledge of the illicit nature of the substance. The trial court denied the request. On appeal, Scott argued that because the burden was on the State to prove he knew the substance was cannabis even if he had not raised the issue at trial, the trial court erred in failing to give the instruction. The district court disagreed. See Scott v. State, 722 So. 2d 256 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998), quashed, 808 So. 2d 166 (Fla. 2002). But on review, the Court agreed with Scott and held that the trial court's denial of the requested instruction was reversible error. Scott, 808 So. 2d at 172.