October 2011 Motion to Suppress Drugs Granted and Case Dismissed
A man was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and a Drug School Zone Violation which makes it unlawful to possess drugs within 1000 feet of a school or 100 feet of a park. These charges stemmed from the search of the manӳ car by police which uncovered a substantial quantity of marijuana from inside the automobile. An undercover police officer driving an unmarked police cruiser drove into the parking lot of a neighborhood park during the daytime. The officer observed a man sitting alone inside his vehicle. There was no one else present in the park. The officer did not observe any drug or other unlawful activity. The officer also did not recognize or otherwise know the man. The officer used a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the man. He specifically observed the man sitting in the driverӳ seat of his car looking into his lap. He then saw what he believed to be the man licking a marijuana cigar or blunt. The officer immediately drove his unmarked cruiser next to the manӳ car so that the driverӳ side doors of each car were aligned. As the officer pulled up he observed loose tobacco on the ground outside of the manӳ car which the officer based upon his training and experience understood to be from a lawful cigar the man had emptied in order to roll a marijuana cigar or blunt. The officer made no other observations or detected the odor of marijuana. Based on his limited observations the officer unilaterally opened the manӳ car door; grabbed the apparent cigar from the manӳ hand; and physically removed from his vehicle. The officer then proceeded to search inside the passenger compartment where he discovered multiple bags of marijuana of varying quantities. The officer then arrested the man and charged him with various drug offenses. Attorney Calcagni was tasked with representing the man who was a first-time offender.
In defense of the man Attorney Calcagni sought to challenge the legality of the police conduct by filing a suppression motion. The motion challenged the officerӳ conduct of opening the manӳ car door; grabbing an object from the manӳ hand; physically removed the man from his vehicle; and searching inside. The thrust of this argument was that the police violated the manӳ 4th amendment right against warrantless and unreasonable searches and seizures. If successful the motion asked the Court to suppress as evidence against the man the drugs discovered by police in his vehicle. The Court conducted a hearing on the defense motion. After the hearing the Court agreed with Attorney Calcagni that the manӳ rights were violated. As a remedy for this violation the Court suppressed the discovered marijuana. As a result of this favorable pretrial ruling all charges against the man will soon be dismissed for lack of evidence. Ultimately this client avoided a mandatory jail sentence associated with the drug charges and will not sustain a criminal record from this incident.