Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana
- Steven Topazio wrote this June 12, 2023 at 3:48 pm
The defendant was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and hired Attorney Topazio to defend her. According to the police report, FedEx intercepted large packages of marijuana addressed to the client, and due to the overwhelming odor of marijuana, opened the packages and then called the police. The police took possession of the marijuana and sought and obtained as anticipatory warrant to search a private residence for controlled substances and related evidence.
The affidavit submitted by the police in support of the warrant application relied principally on one source of information: (1) Information that three packages were mailed containing marijuana to the client which were seized by Postal Inspectors and the packages were opened without a search warrant. The target of the investigation was the name of the person on the FedEx packages, but the police were not aware that two people resided at the target address with the same name. Nevertheless, the police disguised themselves as FedEx Delivery persons and planned to deliver the packages themselves. Their plan was to arrest the person who took possession of the packages that were filled with marijuana. Attorney Topazio challenged the search warrant with a motion to suppress.
In Massachusetts, a motion to suppress is a way to exclude evidence that the police obtained illegally. If you win a motion to suppress, the Commonwealth then cannot introduce the illegal evidence at trial.
The Verdict: Attorney Topazio challenged the search warrant with a motion to suppress and established that his client did not take possession of the packages, even though she was charged. Attorney Topazio pointed out that the person who took possession of the packages was his client’s mother, who had the same name, who the police chose not to charge. Due to the procedural errors in the case, Attorney Topazio persuaded the prosecutor to give his client pretrial probation. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 276 Section 87, the trial court may place a person on pre-trial probation. Pre-trial probation is a court-approved agreement or contract between the prosecutor and defendant before a trial or a plea of guilty which does not result in a conviction nor is an admission to the charge but rather is a vehicle to obtain a dismissal of the criminal charge prior to trial.