Well, it’s a Monday morning and so I am sure that you, like me, witnessed plenty of folks moaning and groaning on their way to work, school, etc. this morning. Rest assured, though, there are those who had more reason to groan about their destination than most.
Take 26-year-old Cassandra McInnis of North Adams (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) for example. She was on her way to North Adams District Court this morning.
She had a bit of a traffic incident this weekend. No, not the typical kind.
While it is not yet clear what lead to it, she was involved in a traffic stop on Saturday evening at 5:30pm. What has been released is that she was stopped for a “motor vehicle infraction”.
Unfortunately, law enforcement says that they discovered red 83 bags of heroin in the car during the stop.
The police charged her with Possession with Intent to distribute class A narcotics (heroin), intent to distribute the heroin within a school/park zone, being present where heroin is kept, conspiracy to violate the drug laws and various motor vehicle offenses.
Yep! All those charges for having 83 bags of heroin in the car.
Nonetheless, she was released on bail from police custody.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Drug Trafficking Offenses And The Laws Of Search And Seizure
“Boy, Sam, I guess This is one time when the Defendant should not have stopped but tried to outrun the police, huh?”
Not at all! That would have only made her situation much worse.
If she had done that, then the police would have given chase and she would have driven right into additional charges relating to the car chase…or worse. Further, she would have probably been held without bail until arraignment. Finally, she would have given the Commonwealth the extra evidence of “consciousness of guilt” to present both at arraignment and to a jury.
Not only that, but the police still would have found the heroin…but without a potential very serious motion to suppress evidence.
“What do you mean?”
If the Defendant had led the police on a chase, then there would be no question as to whether she was arrest-able when they caught her (which they would have). Therefore, once they caught up to her and removed her from her car, the police would have done what is known as an “inventory search” of the car since they were taking her into custody and would have to impound the car. I do not know where in the car the heroin was allegedly found, but it would have been found.
In the case as it is, there is likely a strong motion to suppress motion coming. First of all, we do not know why the police had the right to pull her over. Let’s assume they have an answer for that (they usually do). There is a difference between having the right to pull her over and the right to search the car.
If the drugs were found afoul of the search and seizure laws, then the drugs should be suppressed, which would mean that the Commonwealth cannot use them in evidence.
No drugs…no case.
“Well, what’s with all these charges? Did they find her mid-drug transaction? It sounds like a lot of charges for simply having the bags of heroin in her car.”
Yes, it does. However, that is the way cases like this get charged. There are various strategic reasons for it, but the reason the Commonwealth can bring all these charges based on simply finding the drugs is that the elements to all of them are met.
The Commonwealth contends that the drugs were possessed with the intention to distribute them. Even if there is no other evidence of this, the Commonwealth assumes this based on the quantity and packaging of the drugs. The location of the car stop was apparently in a school zone, thus that charge. Since drug trafficking is generally something that is done with more than one person, it can be a conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Clearly, she is in the car with the heroin, so she is present where the drugs are.
The Defendant is facing a number of felony charges and is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment.
“So, if she loses the motion to suppress, she is absolutely going to go to jail?”
As usual, the answer is “not necessarily”.
First of all, we do not know where the drugs were allegedly found. Perhaps she was unaware of them. Second, what if the alleged finding of the drugs did not take place as the officers have indicated? Remember, reasonable doubt can be connected to a variety of things.
Finally, the Commonwealth is not forbidden to enter into a plea bargain with the Defendant which results in no jail time. However, the Defendant will be at the Commonwealth’s mercy on that one. Only the Commonwealth can decide to simply lessen the charges brought against the Defendant.
So, once again, there are many moving parts to what can happen.
The one thing I can tell you?
Hope she has an experienced criminal defense attorney!
For the original stories upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/10/27/north-adams-woman-facing-heroin-charges/8ZXO4cZXQp0tiNy9bbQ33J/story.html and http://www.iberkshires.com/blog/?bid=2792