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Articles Posted in NARCOTICS

In a recent opinion from a New York court involving a New York drug possession charge, the defendant’s appeal was denied. The defendant made two arguments in hopes of fighting the original guilty verdict: 1) that the confidential informant who provided incriminating information against him was unreliable, and 2) that the statements the defendant made to police officers at the time of his arrest were inadmissible. The court disagreed with both of these arguments, finding the defendant guilty and sentencing him to time in prison as a result of the verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant had been found guilty of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree after police officers found crack cocaine just outside of his residence. Officers had permission to search inside and around the residence because they had received a warrant from the court; this warrant was granted because a confidential informant had provided the court with information suggesting that the defendant possessed cocaine in violation of New York law.

The Decision

The defendant appealed his guilty verdict, arguing that the informant providing the incriminating information was not shown to be “reliable or trustworthy”, and thus that the officers’ warrant was invalid. The court disagreed. The court that issued the warrant did get the opportunity to learn the informant’s identity, and the court communicated to the informant that he was sharing information under penalty of perjury. Given these facts, it was reasonable for the court to believe the informant when he provided incriminating information, and the warrant that the court issued was valid as a result.

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Recently, a New York court denied a defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating evidence in a drug case. The defendant was originally charged with criminal possession of marijuana: the main evidence used against him in court was marijuana that an officer found after conducting an external canine search of his vehicle. The defendant appealed, arguing that the officer had invaded his sense of privacy and did not have reason to conduct this kind of search of his car. The court rejected the defendant’s arguments, ultimately affirming his conviction of criminal drug possession.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a police officer saw the defendant greet another person on the sidewalk outside a convenience store and suspected the two people were conducting a drug deal. Suspicious, the officer followed the defendant as he drove away, knowing already that the corner where he saw the people was in an area where drug sales frequently occurred. The officer noticed that one of the defendant’s two rear license plate lamps was out, so he pulled the defendant over for a traffic stop. After speaking with the officer, the defendant consented to a search of the backseat of his vehicle.

Instead of conducting the search as planned, the officer walked his canine around the exterior of the vehicle. Within seconds, the canine started barking at the trunk of the car. The officer opened the trunk and found marijuana. The defendant was later charged with one count of criminal possession of marijuana in the second degree.

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The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects residents from unreasonable search and seizure of themselves and their property by law enforcement. The protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment are generally understood to be the strongest when the home of a suspect is involved. The New York Court of Appeals recently released a ruling concerning a Fourth Amendment claim that social guests in the home of a friend are entitled to some level of fourth amendment protection by their presence in the home. Although the Court ultimately rejected the defendant’s arguments, one judge on the panel submitted a passionate dissent to the majority decision, suggesting that the law in this area is not entirely settled at this time.

The defendant in the recently decided case was charged and convicted of a drug crime after police allegedly witnessed him sell drugs to an undercover officer and followed him into an apartment building. The police entered an apartment in the building that they believed the defendant had entered but had no warrant to enter that home. After noticing evidence of commercial drug activity in the home, police obtained a warrant to search the home and found the evidence which was later used to convict the defendant at trial.

The defendant challenged the admissibility of the evidence that was collected by police, challenging their entry into the home of his friend without a warrant. The defendant maintained that he had been eating dinner in the apartment “all night” and the police misidentified him. Under the Fourth Amendment, the defendant argued, people are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy when they are socially visiting the home of a friend for dinner. The trial court rejected the defendant’s contentions without holding a hearing, ruling that he had no right to challenge the search of another person’s home.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is the amendment that protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures at the hands of law enforcement. This constitutional protection is typically understood to require that an officer have a warrant before conducting a search. However, over time the courts have interpreted the Fourth Amendment to include certain exceptions that allow a police officer to bypass the warrant requirement. A recent New York drug case highlighted a situation in which an officer may not be required to produce a warrant before searching someone’s vehicle for drugs.

This case involved a defendant’s failed motion to suppress after evidence was obtained during a vehicle search. In this case, after police officers approached an illegally parked car where the defendant sat in the driver’s seat, one of the officers smelled an odor that he recognized to be PCP. The officer received regular training on PCP and other drugs and had encountered the drug numerous times before. The defendant gave the officers a fake name, and the officer observed that the defendant had glassy eyes and slurred speech.

When the defendant was directed to step out of the vehicle, he made a sweeping motion with his hand, which indicated to the officer that the defendant was attempting to hide illegal contraband. The officers conducted a search of the vehicle and found a bag of cocaine and PCP-dipped cigarettes. The defendant waived his Miranda rights and confessed to possessing the cocaine.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion reversing a lower court’s decision which denied a defendant’s motion to suppress the drugs that were recovered in a New York drug case. The case involved a traffic stop conducted by police officers who were investigating information that a vehicle would be transporting a large quantity of narcotics. Ultimately, the court concluded that the search of the defendant’s vehicle was unconstitutional based on the information the officers had at the time of the stop.

The Facts of the Case

Police officers intercepted communication indicating that a Ford Explorer would be transporting a large amount of drugs through a particular part of the state on a given night. That night, certain New York State Troopers were told to wait on the highway and stop the Ford Explorer as it passed.

Officers waited for six hours for the Ford Explorer. When they saw it approaching, they stopped the vehicle, arrested the defendant and her codefendant, and searched the car. Officers found a large amount of drugs. No law enforcement ever obtained or sought a warrant for the defendant’s arrest or the search of their vehicle.

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The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution prohibit law enforcement officers from unreasonably searching or seizing persons or property from citizens in the United States. This is an issue that should be explored by criminal defense lawyers who represent those charged with possessing contraband such as drug offenses or gun offenses.  The Fourth Amendment generally requires officers to obtain a warrant from a judge before searching someone’s home. To comply with legal precedent, warrants need to be specific and limited in scope so law enforcement officers do not exceed the authority given to them by the judge who issued a warrant. The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, recently reversed convictions of a defendant who was charged with drug offenses based on evidence obtained by a search outside the scope of a valid search warrant.

The defendant in the recently decided case was charged with drug and paraphernalia possession after police executed a search warrant on his home. The search warrant was limited to the defendant’s apartment and any shared common areas within the home. When performing the search authorized by the warrant, police officers entered a locked attic that was outside of the defendant’s apartment and found the drugs for which the defendant was charged. Before trial, the defendant attempted to have the evidence from the attic suppressed by the trial court, arguing that the locked attic was not part of the defendant’s apartment nor was it a shared common area in the home. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and he eventually pleaded guilty to the charges, subject to his right to appeal the court’s decision on the motion to suppress.

On appeal, the higher court questioned whether the locked attic was an area that was included in the search warrant. Because the attic was not a part of the defendant’s apartment, the court had to determine whether the attic was a shared common area of the home as described in the warrant. Because evidence suggested that the attic was locked before the search, the court found that it was not a common area of the home and that the search warrant did not authorize entry into the attic. As a result of this finding, the court ruled that the drug evidence found in the attic should not have been admitted at trial, and reversed the defendant’s convictions which were based upon that evidence.

Law enforcement agencies are prevented from performing unreasonable searches of members of the public or their property by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. These constitutional protections extend to areas where a person has an expectation of privacy, including items that have been mailed through the U.S. Postal Service or third-party commercial carriers. Police usually must obtain a search warrant in order to open and search a piece of mail that they suspect may contain contraband or evidence of a crime. Failure to timely obtain a valid search warrant before opening and searching a piece of mail could render any evidence obtained in the search inadmissible at trial. The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division recently rejected a defendant’s appeal, which had claimed that the warrant used to search a piece of mail he had sent was not valid.

The defendant in the recently decided appeal was arrested after authorities obtained a search warrant and searched a piece of mail that he had dropped off at a post office, and drugs were found. According to the facts discussed in the judicial opinion, the search warrant was issued on September 14, 2017. The defendant’s appeal was based on an affidavit from an investigator that stated the search was performed on September 12, 2017, two days prior to the issuance of the valid warrant. Before trial, the defendant attempted to suppress the evidence obtained in connection with the warrant based on this discrepancy and the apparent illegality of the search. The trial judge denied the defendant’s motion, finding multiple other sources of evidence in the record that stated the search actually was performed on September 14, 2017, after the warrant had been issued. The defendant was eventually convicted of drug and gun charges at trial.

The defendant appealed his conviction to the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, arguing that the search appeared to have been performed two days prior to the issuance of the warrant and that the evidence obtained in the search was therefore inadmissible. The high court rejected the defendant’s claims, finding ample evidence in the record that the search was performed after the issuance of the warrant. The court determined that the singular reference to a search occurring two days before the warrant was issued was a typographical error and that the actual search occurred after the issuance of the warrant. As a result of the appellate decision, the defendant’s conviction will be upheld.

New York drug and gun offenses and convictions can have long-term repercussions, including lengthy prison sentences. Defendants must understand their rights after being arrested, charged, or convicted of a criminal offense. Additionally, it is vital that defendants understand the typical steps of a New York criminal case. Including, arraignment, pre-trial discovery and pre-trial motions, trial, and sentencing. An attorney is a critical resource during this complex process because decisions made during these steps may drastically change the outcome of a criminal case.

An appellate court recently issued a decision in the defendant’s appeal of his criminal conviction of possession of a weapon in the third degree. The case addressed several issues, including the validity of a court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to controvert a search warrant and suppress evidence. In this case, police officers pulled the defendant over for a defective headlight. The officer asked the defendant for his license and registration, and when the defendant rolled down his window, the officer detected the smell of marijuana. The defendant explained that he smoked marijuana earlier in the day. The officer shined his flashlight and noticed an expandable baton. The officer’s computer search revealed that the defendant had an arrest warrant; thus, the officer placed the defendant under arrest.

At the precinct, the officer told the defendant that a K-9 unit was searching the vehicle, at which point the defendant responded that “you can do that all you want, whatever’s in the car, the cars not registered to me, my prints aren’t on it.” The police then obtained and executed a search warrant on the car, where they discovered drugs and a weapon. At a suppression hearing, the court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence and statements to the officers. The defendant then challenged the search warrant; however, the court denied the defendant’s motion. The defendant pleaded guilty; however, on appeal, the defendant challenged his appeal waiver’s validity.

Earlier this month, a state appellate our released an opinion in a New York drug case in which the defendant was alleged to have sold cocaine. The defendant claimed that the evidence obtained as a result of his arrest must be suppressed, because it was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. Ultimately, the court agreed that the officers lacked justification to stop him, ordering a new trial.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, police officers were conducting an undercover drug surveillance. Officers sat in a car as they watched the defendant interact with another person. Although the officers were looking at the defendant’s back, and could not see what, if anything, was exchanged, they believed it to be a drug transaction.

The officers called in back-up to stop both the defendant, and the alleged buyer. Officers pulled the defendant over and immediately took him out of the car, and placed him in handcuffs. The officers then questioned the defendant, who admitted to possessing cocaine. The officers then retrieved cocaine from his pocket. Other officers stopped the alleged buyer and returned her to the scene, where she identified the defendant as the person who sold her the cocaine.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York drug case, affirming the defendant’s conviction. The court’s opinion, although brief, discusses what has come to be known as an eavesdropping warrant.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. Over the years, courts have generally held that, to be “reasonable,” a search must be supported by probable cause. Most often, this requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to conduct a search. Of course, there are certain situations when a warrant is not needed, such as if the officer observes illegal conduct, or the search is conducted incident to a lawful arrest.

Absent an exception to the warrant requirement, law enforcement must obtain a warrant to search a person, their home, their car, or any other private area. Often, law enforcement officers want to search a physical place; however, if they want to search a suspect’s electronic communications, different rules apply.

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