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State v. Garcia 2017 UT 53 (August 23, 2017)

Aug 23, 2017

In this appeal of a criminal conviction, the supreme court held that trial counsel’s assent to an erroneous jury instruction prejudiced the defendant, but that prejudice cannot be presumed in the case of an erroneous jury instruction.  The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that the phrase “an unlawful user of a controlled substance”—the basis of the charge of possession of a firearm by a restricted person—was unconstitutionally vague with respect to him.  In doing so, it adopted an interpretation that has been accepted by many federal courts in connection with the similar federal statute: that there must be a “temporal nexus between the gun possession and regular drug use.”