Articles Posted in NARCOTICS

In a recent case coming out of a New York court, the defendant appealed his guilty conviction for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Officers searched for this weapon only because they had previously smelled marijuana in the defendant’s car, making them suspicious of additional drug or criminal activity. In his appeal, the defendant relied on a recently enacted law that legalizes possession of marijuana in certain amounts for individuals who are 21 or older in New York. The court acknowledged this new law but ultimately ruled that the law does not apply to convictions that occurred before the passage of the law in 2021. The Court found that the police officer had reasonable cause to believe that there was contraband located in the car, to wit marijuana.  At the time of the search, possession of marijuana was still illegal in New York.  Therefore, because the defendant was charged in 2018, he could not use the law to argue for his conviction to be overturned.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two police officers were patrolling one evening in his car when they noticed the defendant pull away from the curb without signaling. The officers signaled the defendant to pull over and then conducted a traffic stop. Once the defendant rolled down his car window, the officers immediately smelled a strong odor of marijuana.

After the officers asked the defendant whether there was, in fact, marijuana in the car, the defendant answered in the affirmative and opened his center console. The officers found two bags of marijuana and $1,000 cash. Continuing to smell the marijuana, the officers searched other areas of the car and subsequently found a loaded firearm in the trunk.

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In a recent opinion from a New York court in a New York drug case, the defendant’s appeal of his conviction for drug possession was denied. Originally, the defendant was arrested after officers found heroin in his vehicle, but he filed a motion to suppress the incriminating evidence. The lower court denied this motion, concluding that the officers conducted a proper search of the defendant’s vehicle. On appeal, the higher court agreed with the lower court’s denial of the motion to suppress. The defendant’s guilty conviction was thus affirmed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers worked on this case with a confidential informant, who provided samples of heroin that he had obtained from the defendant on previous occasions. On the day the defendant was charged for drug possession, the informant had arranged to purchase a large quantity of drugs from the defendant.

Because the officers had previously suspected the defendant of drug possession, they had arranged for a GPS to be put on his car to track his location. Thus on the day the informant was supposed to conduct the drug exchange, the officers were able to locate the defendant and his automobile. They searched the car and subsequently found a bag of heroin inside.

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In a recent New York drug case, the defendant’s attempt to appeal his guilty verdict was unsuccessful. On appeal, the defendant argued that the lineups used to identify him as a drug dealer were not in line with proper procedures, and thus that the decision should be reversed. The court disagreed, ultimately affirming the verdict as well as the defendant’s sentence of time in prison.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, investigators began looking into the defendant when they suspected he was involved in several drug transactions. As part of the investigation, officers used a confidential informant. They had the informant look at a group of photos then identify the defendant to let them know which person in the group of photos had been illegally selling drugs.

In two different picture lineups, sometimes referred to as photo arrays, the confidential informant identified the defendant as someone who they knew to be dealing drugs. The investigation led officers to charge the defendant with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, and two counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree.

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In a recent New York case involving a defendant who was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a weapon, the court reversed the original lower court’s guilty verdict. On appeal, the defendant argued that incriminating evidence found by police officers should have been suppressed since the officers did not have reason to believe they could search through his private apartment. The court agreed with the defendant, reversing the judgment in the case.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers originally responded to a 911 call made by a woman who reported that her roommate was unconscious on the floor of their apartment. A team of officers and medical personnel arrived at the apartment and discovered that the unconscious woman had died on the floor of the bathroom.

Soon after discovering the woman was dead, an officer decided to conduct a brief search of the residence. As he looked around, he found a digital scale, some powdery residue, and a bag with illegal drugs in the bedroom. Based on these findings, officers proceeded to obtain a warrant to search the entire apartment. They found not only illegal drugs but also a handgun, and the defendant was ultimately charged and convicted for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

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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.

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