A police officer saw Kotila
reaching into the window of a car in a store parking lot. He suspected
that Kotila was stealing something from the car.
The officer questioned Kotila,
who identified himself and said that he was putting something into his
friend's car because he didn't have the key. The officer recognized
Kotila's name from an unrelated drug investigation. They found the friend
(Newhouse) who consented to a search of the car.
The search turned up
materials used to make methamphetamine, and the car's license plates were
Kotila was arrested for
possession of drugs.
The Trial Court found Kotila
guilty of drug possession. He appealed.
The specific Kentucky
Statute that Kotila was accused of violating said that a person is guilty
if they "possess the
chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of methamphetamine with the
intent to manufacture methamphetamine."
How do you define the?
Kotila argued that while he
was in possession of some of the
raw materials to make methamphetamine (all legal to possess by the way),
he was not in possession of anhydrous ammonia, which is a key material.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found
that, upon a plain reading of the
Statute, Kotila was not in possession of the chemicals for the
manufacture of methamphetamine.
The big question in this
case was how the Court was to interpret the word the in the Statute. There are several possible
It could be interpreted
that the Statute means that you only have to possess some of materials.
However, this would be an absurd
result because then anyone with a
mason jar and cotton balls is violating the law.
It could be interpreted as
meaning all of the materials.
However this could allow
people to avoid prosecution because they are not in possession of an
easily obtainable item such as a mason jar.
The Court looked at another
Statute that specifically criminalizes of the possession of anhydrous
ammonia. The Court found that if the
meant some, then there
would be no reason for the Statute specifically criminalizing ammonia
possession. Therefore the only logical interpretation of the was all.