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Friday, December 16, 2011

Is a package containing marijuana mailed to the wrong address admissible?

QUESTION:  A package was delivered to the wrong address where it was signed for and opened.  The package, which contained marijuana was returned to the postal service and delivered to the original recipient who was arrested.  Is this admissible?

Evidence is inadmissible if it was obtained illegally which doesnt seem to be the case here as there is no illegal police conduct.  Perhaps if the person who opened the package originally was a member of law enforcement an argument for suppression could be made but the officer would certainly claim that it was an accidental opening. Evidence can also be inadmissible if it is not  probative or relevant to some material issue in the case or if it violates some other rule of evidence, i.e., hearsay.  Since this is likely a possession case, it looks like it will pass these tests as well.  However, just because it is admissible, it doesn't mean that it will be sufficient proof beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain a conviction.  The DA has to prove that the person picking up the package knew the contents of the package was marijuana.  Given the fact that the package was opened and possibly not the original contents, this will be more difficult for the DA but not impossible.  The DA will likely try to subpoena postal records to enhance their case.

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