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Myers v. Commonwealth – Case Brief Summary (Virginia)

In Myers v. Commonwealth, 43 Va. App. 113, 596 S.E.2d 536 (2004), the defendant, a paraplegic, was the front seat passenger in a pickup truck that was stopped (after a high speed chase) for running a stop sign.

In a search of the pickup truck the next day, the police found "a lot of garbage on the floor board" and "blankets, a jacket, just some junk laying in the passenger side front floor board of the truck." Id. at 117.

They also found a .32 revolver wrapped in a blanket on the front floorboard. The gun was not registered to the driver or the defendant. The defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of the revolver.

The appellate court reversed, holding that the evidence did not show anything more than mere proximity of the defendant to the firearm. It emphasized that the gun was hidden in the blanket, which was found in an "upheaval of junk" on the floorboard; that there were no furtive movements by the defendant; and that there was nothing else to show that the defendant exercised dominion or control over the revolver. Id. at 122-23