In a recent Massachusetts appellate case (Commonwealth v. Freddy Baez), a Massachusetts defendant appealed from a conviction for trafficking in cocaine. The case arose when the police were conducting surveillance of the defendant’s address while investigating drug crimes. They saw the defendant leave his house and followed him to another part of Boston, where he picked up his eventual codefendant.
The defendant stopped briefly elsewhere and then went to pick up the defendant’s mother. After that, he changed lanes without signaling, and the police pulled over his car for an infraction. The police asked for identification. The defendant gave the officers identification, but the codefendant provided a fake driver’s license. The codefendant was arrested for the fake license and a default warrant for cocaine trafficking.
The police searched the car and found thousands of dollars in the glove compartment. The defendant was cited for the infraction, but he and his mother were allowed to go.
Meanwhile, the codefendant waived his Miranda rights. He told the officers his address and said that there was cocaine at the apartment. The detectives went to the address. They heard sounds from inside and entered. The defendant was in the hallway, and another man was upstairs with a bag of small plastic bags. The police got a warrant, searched the place, and found more than 600 grams of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
The defendant and codefendant were indicted for drug trafficking. They made a motion to suppress their statements and the seized evidence. The court suppressed their statements but denied the request to suppress evidence. They were tried jointly. The codefendant pled guilty to a reduced charge. The defendant was found guilty of trafficking. He appealed and filed a motion for new trial. The motion for new trial was denied.
On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the trafficking conviction. The appellate court explained that five elements must be proved for cocaine trafficking: (1) direct or constructive possession of a controlled substance, (2) the substance is cocaine, (3) the defendant knowingly and intentionally possessed cocaine, (4) intention to distribute, dispense or manufacture, and (5) the amount is 200 grams or more.
At trial, a witness testified he saw the defendant and codefendant preparing cocaine. He also testified that he helped. The defendant was arrested outside an apartment with cocaine inside. The prosecution introduced drug certificates establishing the amount of cocaine that was found, and the amount found suggested an intent to distribute. Furthermore, the officers who saw the defendant driving testified he made stops that were consistent with drug transactions.
Among other things, the defendant challenged the admissibility of the detective’s testimony regarding the codefendant’s statement about where he lived and the cocaine at his apartment. The defendant argued this was inadmissible because it wasn’t made during the course of a joint venture or to further a goal, and that he did not have the opportunity to impeach the codefendant with his pending drug trafficking charge.
The appellate court explained that the defense counsel agreed to admit the codefendant’s statement. The codefendant’s statement didn’t name the defendant and implicated the codefendant rather than the defendant. The appellate court also explained that a defendant can impeach a witness in cross-examination, but in this case the defendant could explore the codefendant’s bias without referring to the specific pending charge. It further explained that it was reasonable for the officers to search the globe compartment on the grounds that it contained evidence of the offenses for which the codefendant was arrested. The judgment was affirmed.
If you are arrested for a drug crime, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today to discuss your Massachusetts criminal charges. Call us at 617-367-0450 or contact us through this website.
More Blog Posts:
U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Defendant in Mandatory Minimum Case Alleyne v. U.S., Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 19, 2013
Court of Appeals Ruling Affirms Prior Conviction Record Insufficient to Establish Identity, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 11, 2013