STATE v. QUENTIN T. RAY, SC 17905
Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at G.A. 1
Criminal; Whether the State Bore the Burden of Proving Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that the Defendant was not a Drug-Dependent Person at the Time that he Sold Narcotics in Violation of General Statutes § 21a-278 (b). The defendant was charged with, among other things, five counts of the sale of narcotics by a person who is not drug-dependent in violation of General Statutes § 21a-278 (b). At trial, he maintained that although a defendant who is charged with a violation of § 21a-278 (b) is presumed not to have been drug-dependent at the time of the offense, that presumption will be rebutted if the defendant introduces sufficient evidence to establish that he or she was, in fact, drug-dependent, and the state will then shoulder the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not drug-dependent. Relying on State v. Hart, 221 Conn. 595 (1992), the state countered that the absence of drug dependency is not an element of the offense of the sale of narcotics by a person who is not drug-dependent, but rather, it is an exemption from liability, and, therefore, the defendant had the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he was drug-dependent. The trial court agreed with the state, and it further determined that the defendant failed to satisfy his burden of proof because he merely presented evidence that he was drug-dependent months before the offenses were committed. Accordingly, the court convicted him of five counts of violating § 21a-278 (b). Relying on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and its progeny, the defendant argues in this appeal that because a non-drug-dependent person who sells narcotics is subject to a harsher maximum penalty under § 21a-278 (b), the state bears the ultimate burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was not drug-dependent at the time of the alleged crime, at least when the accused initially introduces sufficient evidence to establish that he or she was drug-dependent. He further maintains that the Apprendi line of cases requires that Hart be overruled. He also contends that even if he was required to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he was drug-dependent, the court improperly found that he failed to meet his burden.