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Granger v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 31, 2018

Devon R. Granger, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Hendricks Superior Court The Honorable Stephenie LeMay-Luken, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 32D05-1710-CM-1432

          Attorney for Appellant Andrew R. Falk Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana, Lyubov Gore Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          NAJAM, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Devon Granger appeals his conviction for possession of paraphernalia, as a Class C misdemeanor, following a bench trial. Granger presents a single issue for our review, namely, whether the State presented sufficient evidence to support his conviction based upon his possession of a grinder. We reverse.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On October 18, 2017, Avon Police Department Officer Jacob Elder saw Granger driving well over the speed limit and initiated a traffic stop. After Officer Elder asked Granger for his license and registration, Officer Elder saw a grinder in the door handle area of the driver's side door. Officer Elder recognized the grinder as something that is used to grind marijuana into finer pieces for "easier" consumption. Tr. at 48. Accordingly, Officer Elder asked Granger to exit the vehicle, read him his Miranda rights, and asked him whether there was "anything else illegal in the vehicle." Id. at 46. Granger responded in the negative, and Officer Elder searched the vehicle but did not find anything else of interest. Officer Elder found a substance that he believed to be marijuana inside the grinder. Accordingly, Officer Elder arrested Granger.

         [¶3] The State charged Granger with possession of paraphernalia, as a Class C misdemeanor. Following a bench trial, the trial court found him guilty as charged and entered judgment. The court sentenced Granger to time served. This appeal ensued.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶4] Granger contends that the State presented insufficient evidence to support his conviction. In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we consider only the evidence and reasonable inferences most favorable to the conviction, neither reweighing the evidence nor reassessing witness credibility. Griffith v. State, 59 N.E.3d 947, 958 (Ind. 2016). We will affirm the judgment unless no reasonable fact-finder could find the defendant guilty. Id.

         [¶5] To prove possession of paraphernalia, as a Class C misdemeanor, the State was required to show that Granger knowingly or intentionally possessed an instrument, device, or other object that he intended to use for "introducing into [his] body a controlled substance." Ind. Code § 35-48-4-8.3(b)(1) (2018). Granger asserts that the State did not present any evidence that the grinder could be used to introduce marijuana into his body. We must agree.

         [¶6] Our goal in statutory interpretation is to determine the legislature's intent, which, if the statute is unambiguous, we do by following the plain and ordinary meaning of the statute. E.g., Jones v. State, 87 N.E.3d 450, 454 (Ind. 2017). Here, Granger's conviction depends on the meaning of "introducing" as used in the statute, and to "introduce" is defined in relevant part as "to put or insert into." Webster's Third New Int'l Dictionary 1186 (2002). Thus, an instrument or device that is used to put or insert a controlled substance into the body is paraphernalia under the statute.

         [¶7] Officer Elder testified that the grinder was "a device to grind [marijuana] down more finely so [that the person] can consume it easier." Tr. at 48. And he agreed that the grinder was used "in preparation of using marijuana." Id. (emphasis added). But there is a material distinction between possession of an instrument or device that can only be used to prepare a controlled substance for consumption and possession of an instrument or device that can be used to introduce a controlled substance into the body. Here, the evidence shows ...


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