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Unclear evidence: Rap star acquitted of Maryland drug charges

When rapper 2 Chainz and his tour crew were headed to a show at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, they couldn't have expected the legal trouble that would crop up along the way. Officers pulled the musician's tour van over and allegedly smelled marijuana, which led to the seizure of drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana.

Police found a marijuana grinder in the rapper's bag, so they charged 2 Chainz -- legally named Tauheed Epps -- with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. While in court, the defendant's security guard provided testimony that was strong enough to cause the district court judge to acquit him of all criminal charges.

According to reports, Epps and his tour crew were in a hurry when they left a hotel for their next gig in Maryland. While they were gathering items in the room, the security guard hastily grabbed the marijuana grinder and placed in Epps' bag without having a clear idea who it belonged to. Furthermore, when police found the items during the traffic stop, witnesses said that no one present could identify who owned the grinder or the marijuana inside. This is the account the security guard told the court, which is largely why Epps was found not guilty.

In order to secure a conviction, criminal prosecutors must provide evidence that proves a defendant's guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Since it was not clear to whom the drug-related items belonged, a conviction couldn't be reached with confidence.

This ruling in Maryland court upholds one of the cornerstones of the criminal justice system: defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Because nothing was definitively proven by prosecutors, the drug charges didn't stick.

Source: The Star Democrat, "2 Chainz found not guilty on marijuana, paraphernalia charges," Josh Bollinger, April 24, 2013

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