CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hinkle on Prior Possession Convictions as Evidence of Commercial Drug Activity

Ashley Hinkle has posted Every Consumer Knows How to Run a Business: The Dangerous Assumptions Made When a Prior Possession Conviction is Admitted as Evidence in a Case Involving Commercial Drug Activity (35 Northern Illinois University Law Review 401 (2015)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This Comment provides a discussion on Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), which for the past few decades has allowed federal prosecutors to use instances of prior possession to fulfill elements of a different crime involving commercial drug activity. This evidence has been allowed in a variety of circumstances among the federal circuits, regardless of proximity in time, relatedness, or similarity between the previous instance of possession and the new commercial drug charge at hand. This Comment contains an in-depth analysis of the evidentiary rule, procedural requirements, case law, and the present circuit split on this issue. A recent decision by the Third Circuit has shed light on this problem and has provided a framework that suggests stricter guidelines should be used when instances of prior possession are presented as evidence to fulfill elements of a commercial drug crime. Lastly, this Comment presents an argument that emphasizes the need for a uniform approach by either requiring a greater standard of relevancy or by excluding evidence of prior possession in cases concerning commercial drug activity when the events are substantially unrelated.

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