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People v. Ryan

Court of Appeals of New York
626 N.E.2d 51 (1993)



At the time of this case, §220.18(5) of the New York State Penal Code made it a felony to “knowingly” possess six hundred twenty-five milligrams of a hallucinogen. Ryan (defendant) ordered a shipment of hallucinogenic mushrooms through his friend Hopkins. In cooperation with the authorities, Hopkins delivered a substitute box to Ryan, who was then arrested and indicted for attempted possession under §220.18(5). At Ryan’s trial, the People (plaintiff) submitted evidence that the mushrooms in the box weighed about two pounds and that a sample from the box contained 796 milligrams of psilocybin, a hallucinogen. No evidence was offered as to the weight of the psilocybin typically contained in a two-pound box of hallucinogenic mushrooms. The trial court denied Ryan’s motion to dismiss for lack of proof that he knew that the psilocybin in the box weighed more than six hundred twenty-five milligrams. Ryan was convicted and appealed to the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division affirmed the conviction, holding that the use of the word “knowingly” in §220.18(5) referred only to the element of possession and not to the weight of the hallucinogen. Ryan appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, C.J.)

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