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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Most Texas drug crime laws require the government prove that the accused acted with a specific state of mind. An accused who does not have that state of mind is not guilty of the crime. Usually, the state of mind requires the defendant to act intentionally or knowingly.
Some drug crimes require the accused to act intentionally, to engage in intentional conduct, or to act with a specific intent. Each variation refers to the same state of mind. A person acts intentionally when the person has a conscious desire to perform the act. If the person’s objective is to cause an illegal result, the person intends that result.
Some drug crimes require the accused to act knowingly, to have certain knowledge while engaging in an act, or to act while knowing a thing to be true. Each variation refers to the same state of mind.
When a crime requires the nature of the accused’s conduct to be knowing, the accused acts knowingly when he or she is aware that what he or she is doing. A defendant who is mistaken about the nature of the conduct in which he or she is engaging might not be acting knowingly.
When the crime requires the accused to have knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the conduct, the accused must be aware that the circumstances exist that make an act criminal. A defendant who is mistaken about the circumstances surrounding his or her conduct might not be acting with the knowledge that the law requires.
When the crime requires the accused to know the result of his or her conduct, the accused must be aware that his or her conduct is reasonably certain to cause that result.
Delivery, Possession with Intent, and Manufacturing
The crimes of delivery, manufacture, and possession with intent require the conduct to be committed knowingly. The State is generally required to prove that the defendant knew that a controlled substance was delivered, possessed, or manufactured. The State does not need to prove that the defendant knew the exact nature of the drug, but must prove that the defendant knew that the substance was an illegal drug.
The illegal possession of a controlled substance must be knowing. Proof of knowledge does not require proof that the defendant knew the exact nature of the controlled substance possessed, but the accused must have known that the substance was an illegal drug.
“Knowing” possession requires the accused to be aware of the drug. For example, if someone slips an envelope containing cocaine into an individual’s jacket pocket and the individual does not know that he or she is carrying cocaine, that individual has not committed a crime.
Of course, the police are unlikely to believe that a person carrying a drug did not know about the drug’s presence. That is why it is vital to have a reputable criminal defense attorney if you are arrested for possession.