- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The state Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a jail inmate accused of giving a prescription drug pill to a fellow inmate, saying a judge incorrectly instructed the jury on one word.

The jury found Jason McGill guilty of giving the pill. On appeal, his lawyers said the judge should have instructed the jury about whether he acted “purposely.” The judge used the word “knowingly.”

The court on Thursday agreed with the defense. It said because the law specifies a defendant must act with the “intent that a prisoner shall receive or obtain” the item and because “intentionally” and “purposely” are synonymous, “purposely” should have been used.

It said “knowingly” is a lesser mental state than “purposely” and it was under this lesser standard that McGill was found guilty.

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