Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

ATTORNEY SAM CONTINUES LISTING THE CONTENTS OF THE TYPICAL DRUG TRAFFICKING PROSECUTION (Part Two)

Yesterday, we discussed a gent who is looking at criminal charges for allegedly participating in a heroin trafficking ring. We began listing items that one normally finds being offered into evidence in such cases.

We now continue.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Additional Pieces Of Evidence In A High Level Drug Trafficking Prosecution

  1. A Stash

This refers to other drugs that are waiting to be sold in or around the location.

An important part of a high-level drug trafficking investigation is finding the sources of drugs. Drug operations tend to be multi-level. Generally, law enforcement is more interested in getting the “bigger fish” than the “little minnows”. The prosecutorial hope is that the more drugs that are found, the higher the level of the dealers. In terms of the individual prosecution, the finding of a stash is good evidence that the people present are involved in the drug trade.

It is especially helpful when the type and packaging of the drugs found match the packaging of that which was sold in a pre-warrant buy (discussed yesterday).

Big stashes of illegal narcotics tend to be worth a great deal of money. Therefore, the more the stash is worth, the less likely it is that folks not involved with the business will be present at what is suspected to be a drug location.

At least, that’s how the theory goes.

  1. Drug Paraphernalia

This tends to go alongside the finding of a stash.

Drug paraphernalia includes packaging, scales and material that is often mixed with the narcotics so that it is not sold in its purest form.

Some of these things are things that one might have around any home. However, the prosecution’s argument is that, when you look at the surrounding circumstances, in this case they were used for drug trafficking.

It is like so-called “burglarious tools”. You might have a hammer, pliers and such things around the house. If, however, you are suspected of breaking and entering a building, and you have them in your car, you will likely be charged with having burglarious tools.

Again, the matching of empty packaging to what was sold in a pare-warrant buy, or what is wrapped around the stash, is also something that the government looks for.

Incidentally, the mere having of the paraphernalia, assuming the government can prove that is what it is, is a crime in itself

  1. Weapons

The theory is that guns and drugs go together like meatballs and spaghetti. Particularly in higher level operations, police expect to find weapons, particularly guns. Indeed, guns are often kept in the area to guard against rival sellers, unruly customers etc.

Of course, it is always nice for the prosecution to find evidence of other crimes in case a jury does not convict on the drug counts. A successful prosecution on the gun possession, even if there are acquittals on the drug charges, helps ease the pain of the acquittal for the prosecutor.

  1. The School Zone

This one is particularly prevalent in Suffolk County. Almost everywhere you look, there is an area for which the additional charge of a school zone can be applied.

For the prosecutor, the beauty of a school zone count is that he brings along a mandatory minimum sentence. Thus, it could be used as a bargaining chip should A defendant wish to make a deal.

  1. Making a Deal

This is the part that a jury generally does not get to see or hear.

Often in these cases, because of the interest in climbing the ladder to the “big fish”, investigating officers try to get information from those they have arrested.

This is the point where the investigators often pretend to be more than a little fatherly to the prisoner. In hopes to gain some trust and loosen some tongues. Often, all kinds of promises are made. Unfortunately, the prosecutor is not bound by any of these promises which provides an “out” on the part of law-enforcement after they have gotten the statements they want.

If, however, the prosecution decides that the information offered by the new arrestee is worthwhile, the deal making can truly begin. Normally, the earlier the offer to aid the Commonwealth against the co-defendants The better the deal the particular defendant is likely to get.

The only way a jury is going to hear about such a deal is if and when such a defendant the becomes a commonwealth witness.

 

You may now feel like you are an expert on defending a drug trafficking case.  You are not.  Hire an experienced profesional!

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