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State v. Rizal

Supreme Court of Kansas

July 19, 2019

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Yamuna Rizal, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         To convict a defendant of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance under K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-5705(a), the State must prove the defendant had knowledge of the nature of the controlled substance. This knowledge requirement can be established by proving the defendant either knew the identity of the substance or knew that the substance was controlled. A mistake of fact about the nature of a controlled substance can negate the knowledge requirement.

         Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished opinion filed February 17, 2017.

          Appeal from Johnson District Court; Thomas Kelly Ryan, judge.

          Jonathan Laurans, of Kansas City, Missouri, argued the cause, and Christopher Angles, of The Angles Law Firm, LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, was with him on the briefs for appellant.

          Jacob M. Gontesky, assistant district attorney, argued the cause, and James Crux, legal intern, Stephen J. Obermeier, senior deputy district attorney, Stephen M. Howe, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the briefs for appellee.

          OPINION

          STEGALL, J.:

         After a bench trial on stipulated facts, the Johnson County District Court convicted Yamuna Rizal of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it at a gas station she owned in Shawnee. On appeal, Rizal argues the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction because of a mistake of fact-that she believed the packets she sold contained lawful incense, not a controlled substance. We hold the State was required to prove that Rizal had knowledge of the nature of the controlled substance she possessed and that it proved this element through circumstantial evidence. As a result, we affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In April 2012, Detectives Shawn Miller and Steve Hahne with the Shawnee Police Department went to a Phillips 66 gas station to investigate a tip that the store was selling synthetic cannabinoids. When the detectives arrived, they found Rizal, a coowner of the store, working behind the counter. She agreed to let the detectives search behind the counter. They soon discovered packages that appeared to contain synthetic cannabinoids located under the counter, hidden from view. The packages later tested positive for naphthoylindole, a synthetic cannabinoid commonly called "K2." Rizal's gas station was located across the street from an elementary school.

         The State charged Rizal with possession with intent to distribute naphthoylindole, a controlled substance, within 1, 000 feet of a school. See K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-5705(a)(7) (making it unlawful to "possess with the intent to distribute any of the following controlled substances . . . any substance designated in subsection (h) of K.S.A. 65-4105"); K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 65-4105(h)(2) (listing naphthoylindoles as controlled substances); K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-5705(c)(1)(A) (increasing the severity level for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance that occurs within 1, 000 feet of school property). The State also charged her with a drug stamp violation.

         Rizal filed a motion to suppress, claiming her Miranda rights were violated and her consent to search was involuntary. The district court held a suppression hearing and denied the motion. Then the case went to a bench trial on stipulated facts:

"1. On April 3, 2012, Det. Shawn Miller and Det. Steve Hahne of the Shawnee Police Department responded to the Phillips 66 located . . . in Shawnee, Johnson County, Kansas regarding a tip that the store was selling synthetic cannabinoids. This tip had come from the Johnson County Adult Residential Center which had located some synthetic cannabinoids at their facility which had purportedly come from the Phillips 66 located in Shawnee.
"2. Both officers were dressed in plain clothes with black vests marked 'Police' and police badges.
. . . .
"4. Upon entering the store Det. Miller introduces himself to the woman working behind the counter. She is later identified as the defendant, Yamuna Rizal, who is over the age of 18 . . . .
"5. Rizal is wearing a 'DARE to Resist Drugs' t-shirt during their contact and has a piece of fabric printed with marijuana leaves covering the stool behind the counter which is clearly visible to people purchasing items at the counter.
"6. Det. Miller tells Rizal about the tip they have received, he asks her if she is selling 'incense', 'flavored tobacco' or 'K2'. She says she is not and that those products are illegal. During this conversation a customer comes up and Det. Miller offers to stand aside so Rizal can assist the customer. Det. Miller then asks Rizal if [sic] 'just comes around the corner here and checks' and Rizal says 'no' (indicating she does not mind).
"7. Rizal initially says she does not know what Det. Miller means by 'K2' and he then describes the product. Det. Miller asks Rizal if she is the store ...

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