The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today in a 7-0 decision to overturn a conviction
against Chelsey Barry for tampering with evidence. Barry had concealed
56 grams of heroin within a body cavity and was initially convicted of
drug trafficking, conspiracy, possession, and tampering with evidence.
She received a sentence of six years in prison for the allied offenses
of trafficking, possession, and conspiracy. The penalties for tampering
were imposed separately; a consecutive sentence of three years totaling
nine years in prison.
Barry appealed the tampering charge based on claims that the jury was misled
by an instruction stating that she had knowledge that trafficking and
possession were unmistakable crimes and she had “constructive knowledge”
that she would wind up being investigated.
In the Ohio Supreme Court ruling, it was decided that the tampering conviction
would be reversed because prosecutor’s had a duty to prove beyond any reasonable
doubt that Barry knew of the investigation. It is not enough to show that
she knew of the “unmistakable crime;” they must show that
she was aware of any investigation that is ongoing or likely.
The Fourth District Court of Appeals initially affirmed Barry’s conviction,
but also admitted that the decision was in conflict with a case handled
by the Second District Court of Appeals from 2012 in which the court rejected
a similar tampering conviction.
The Court remanded the case for future proceedings and vacated the conviction.
At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, our Columbus criminal defense attorneys make sure
to stay up to date with changing laws so we know how to best represent
our clients. If you have been arrested for any kind of
drug crime or other criminal defense matter, please do not hesitate to
reach out to us. Let us fight to defend your rights every step of the way.