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United States v. Stewart (1998) – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Stewart, 145 F.3d 273, 280 (5th Cir. 1998), the court reversed the driver's conviction, without mention of earlier precedent that mere dominion over a vehicle in which contraband is found can lead to an inference of constructive possession.

Although Stewart was the driver of a car owned by the passenger's girlfriend, the Fifth Circuit held that the evidence was insufficient to sustain Stewart's conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. See id.

The passenger had 96 grams of crack cocaine on his person. See Stewart, 145 F.3d 273 at 275.

Two well hidden guns were found, one under the driver's seat and one under the passenger's seat. The passenger admitted ownership of the guns and cocaine.

Stewart was not charged with possession of the guns, but was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

In reversing Stewart's drug conviction, the Fifth Circuit stated, "Stewart's presence in the vehicle and association with the passenger are insufficient to support a reasonable inference that Stewart had any knowledge of the drugs." 145 F.3d 273 at 277.