A recent client came to ENM Law when he was facing the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. This client was on parole for murder when he was charged with simple drug possession. While a possession charge usually only carries a probationary sentence, this client was looking at a state sentence for the new charge as well as a state sentence for violating his parole with a new conviction. In consultation with Attorney Nevins, this client decided to take his case to trial and elected to have the case heard by a judge in a bench trial, rather than by a jury.
The client was a passenger in a vehicle operated by a woman whom he had paid to give him a ride to a friend’s house. The vehicle was pulled over for suspected DUI. The officer who made the stop eventually searched the vehicle and found PCP, cocaine and marijuana in the passenger door compartment and underneath the passenger seat. The driver of the vehicle said that the drugs weren’t hers and that they must belong to our client because she saw him smoking what she believed to be PCP-laced cigarettes. Based on the statements from the driver, our client was charged with possessing those drugs.
Because the drugs were not found in our client’s actual possession, the prosecution had to proceed under a theory called construction possession. Put simply, a person can be charged with constructive possession of a drug if they have the ability and intent to control it, even if there is not any actual/physical possession.
Attorney Nevins was able to attack the credibility of the driver by showing that she was charged with driving under the influence of PCP and marijuana on that specific occasion, had been charged with driving under the influence on two prior occasions, and was currently on probation for committing a theft crime. Attorney Nevins was further able to show that our client did not show any signs of being under the influence of drugs and that the officer did not see any movements by our client which would leave the officer to believe that the client was hiding drugs after the vehicle was stopped.
The judge found our client “not guilty” and stated that she could not find the driver of the vehicle credible and there was not sufficient evidence to convict our client without the driver’s statements.
Through his hard work and diligent representation, Attorney Nevins was able to save this client from serving a significant jail sentence.