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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26798
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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A person was detained and held to extract information on the

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A person was detained and held to extract information on the whereabouts of a wanted person and was then threatened to be charged with intent to sell (two bags of less than 28.5 grams was discovered in the area not on the person) which carries a 3 year sentence (this person also had a prior intent to sell 4 years ago). However this person did not have cash, cell phone or the drugs on him at time of arrest. There were 3 other persons detained but he was the only one taken in which we suspect is due to his possible knowledge of the whereabout of the wanted person. The police told him if he gave them the information they were seeking they would drop the charges. The arrested person refused to cooperate due to his not knowing and the fact that "snitches" are eliminated. How can the police pin the drugs on him if they were not on him?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.

Congratulations on your refusal to cooperate with the police, and I mean that sincerely.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that police can lie and use deceptive and coercive tactics to get information about crime. And so they do. All the time. And they are very good at it. They will promise you a really sweet deal if you just rat out your drug suppliers. Except that they cannot keep their promise. They know it. But you don't. The police don't control who gets prosecuted. Only the DA can do that. And the police don't control DA offers. Only the DA can decide what a case is worth and they do that without regard to the police.

So what could you have gotten for your cooperation with the police (apart from possibly being harmed or killed for snitching)? The answer is, you could have gotten arrested anyway. Happens each and every time.

Possession of drugs is the type of offense where if a bunch of people are arrested together but only one was holding, all can still frequently get charged equally with the crime when the circumstances under which they were arrested made it likely that everyone in the group was all involved together in the criminal enterprise. When it comes to trial, that presumption can fall. Some people may clearly be more involved than others. But this is how the police can charge you with this crime. The legal term for it is "constructive possession."

Edited by FranL on 7/2/2010 at 7:02 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

No one was found with the drugs. The person who had the drugs (dealer) tossed the bag and ran. The arrested person and the others did not run. They sat down and waited for the police. After interviewing the three who remained, they only took the one who had visible tattoos on his body. The police are adding gang enhancement to the intent to sell charges which in California adds another year to the term for each charge. This individual does not live in the neighborhood or lives in the county where he was arrested. He did associate with individuals in this neighborhood 4 years ago.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
Thanks for the clarification. Sounds like a good case to fight.

Did the police see the dealer toss the bag and run?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
No, they did not. According to the Public Defender all they have charged him with so far is gang enhancement but again he does not have access to the police report as of yet to see what else may or may not be in the police report. Bail was denied. The arrested individual is pleading not guilty to any and all charges and is maintaining that he was just visiting. His court appearance today was strictly on bail.

Thank you so far for your assistance in this matter.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
Hello again,

While mere presence at the scene of a crime is not enough to sustain a conviction, the state is entitled to try to prove its case circumstantially. Certainly, someone who has a residence outside the area but came back for whatever reason to the old neighborhood would seem to have a viable defense to the charges. There is, however, a lot I don't know that would be cleared up -- at least to some small extent -- with a glimpse of the court papers, the police reports and after a conversation with the prosecutor.

The police appear to have known that something had been going on -- an anonymous tip, a CI in the mix, an undercover who made a buy from the guy that ran. They are going after everyone else just based on their being where the seller had been. They don't need much to pursue charges at this point -- just probable cause -- a reasonable belief that criminal activity may have been going on and that the people they arrested might have had something to do with it. They need quite a bit more in order to convict, but I don't think this case is likely to be dismissed and it's good to know that the person you're concerned about has a lawyer.

I'm not sure what else you are looking to know.
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