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People v. Rodriguez.

2024 COA 46. No. 23CA0247. Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance—Buyer-Seller Rule—Sufficiency of Evidence.

May 2, 2024

Based on a tip, officers arranged a controlled drug buy with Rodriguez for the purchase an ounce of methamphetamine. Rodriguez came to the meeting place and got into an officer’s car but was apprehensive. Rodriguez labeled the officer an “undercover cop” and left without completing the transaction. Officers did not follow, search, or arrest Rodriguez at the scene, but they arrested him later. No methamphetamine or drug paraphernalia was recovered from Rodriguez at the controlled buy scene or at his subsequent arrest. Rodriguez was convicted of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

On appeal, Rodriguez asserted that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction because there was no evidence of his agreement to engage in the illicit purpose of distributing drugs. Rodriguez maintained that, at most, the prosecution proved a buyer-seller relationship. To prove the conspiracy to distribute charge, the prosecution had to show that Rodriguez knowingly conspired with one or more persons to distribute a controlled substance. The court of appeals determined that a proposed one-time sale of an ounce of methamphetamine between strangers does not establish, by itself, a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, so insufficient evidence supported the conviction.

The judgment was vacated and the case was remanded for entry of a judgment of acquittal.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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