Farrelly Kalafat PC Blog & Case Results

Monday, June 24, 2013

Farrelly PC Client Found Not Guilty of Drug Possession Charges

By: Sean Farrelly

On June 6, 2013, DC Superior Court Judge Harold Cushenberry granted a defense motion for judgment of acquittal in case number 2013 CMD 3790.  The defendant in that matter was charged with possession of a controlled substance and faced a maximum sentence of up to 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.  By granting the defense motion for judgment of acquittal, Judge Cushenberry made a legal finding that even if viewed in the light most favorably to the government, the government's evidence was not sufficient to convince ANY reasonable juror that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Judge Cushenberry's ruling came after two days of testimony from both the government and the defense.  The basic facts the government presented were that the defendant was stopped at in intersection in SE, Washington, DC.  While stopped at that intersection, an unmarked police SUV pulled up along the right hand side of the defendant's vehicle.  At that time, the officers allege that two passengers in the defendant's vehicle were not wearing seatbelts.  After the passengers failed to put on their seatbelts after numerous commands to do so, the officers decided to exit their vehicle.  Just prior to exiting, one of the officer's observed the defendant toss an unidentified object out of the driver's side window.  

Once outside the officers elected to surround the defendant's vehicle.  According to their testimony, the defendant continued to disregard their orders and the officer's detected an odor of PCP so the police decided to smash three of the four windows of the defendant's vehicle and violently remove the defendant and his two passengers.  After this violent altercation, the police recovered what they believed may have been the object thrown from the window by the defendant.  That object was a cigarette that the police alleged contained PCP.  

The defense presented evidence from one of the passengers of the vehicle.  He testified that at no point did the officers give any verbal commands about a seat belt and at no time did the defendant throw anything from the car.  He further testified that the officers smashed in the windows out of nowhere and he had no idea why they smashed the windows or why they violently removed the occupants of the vehicle.

I was able to impeach the testimony of the government witnesses numerous times as well as expose multiple holes in the government's case in chief.  Further, defense exhibits proved that the officers inflicted significant injuries upon one of the occupants of the vehicle and also that the cigarette recovered from the scene did not match the object allegedly observed by the officer.

At the end of the day, I would love to take all of the credit and say that I am the best criminal defense attorney in DC. However, this is one of those cases where after reading the police report I scratched my head and said "is the government really going forward on this one?"  Even if everything the police say is true (which is almost NEVER the case) they still did not have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that my client committed this offense.  To be completely honest, it was a waste of time and resources for all those involved.  Between the Judge, courtroom staff, prosecutor, DEA analysis and police officer witnesses this case probably cost tax payers thousands of dollars.  

I am by no means saying that the government should not prosecute cases simply because it costs money.  What I am saying is that when a case so clearly falls below proof beyond a reasonable doubt I do believe it would be prudent for the government to think about the time and expense of prosecuting that case before moving forward.  As much as I hope the government will take that approach, I am not going to hold my breath.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug possession offense in Washington, DC please contact Farrelly PC to schedule a full and free consultation to discuss your rights and what to expect moving forward.

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