Possession of Heroin, Fentanyl and Unlicensed Firearm: Dismissed After Motion to Suppress

Drug & Narcotics Offenses

A drug trafficker well known to police was stopped for driving a vehicle that appeared to have illegal tint on its windows. Undercover gang task force officers made this observation from their unmarked police vehicle. Police followed the known drug dealer and initiated a traffic stop of him by activating their overhead emergency lights. The target vehicle came to a slow stop. As police approached on foot, they observed smoke emanating from the vehicle and detected a strong odor of freshly burnt marijuana. The known drug trafficker, as operator, and his brother, in the front seat passenger, occupied the vehicle. Police questioned the men and observed a half-smoked marijuana cigarette in plain view. The driver admitted they had smoked marijuana earlier in the day. Suspecting the driver was operating under the influence of drugs, police asked him to step from the vehicle for a series of field sobriety tests. According to police, the known drug dealer passed the tests and was determined fit to drive. As the man walked back to his car, police asked him if he had any marijuana inside the vehicle. He replied that he had a bag of marijuana, but provided no further detail as to its weight, amount or location. This prompted police to search the interior compartment of the vehicle where they discovered the small bag concealed in a closed center console with a small digital scale. Police also discovered the glove box was locked. Police asked the driver to unlock the glove box compartment. The man refused. He claimed the car did not belong to him and therefore, he did not have the authority to consent to this search. The police and the driver played a game of give and take with police about opening the glove box. The driver even phoned his lawyer, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer John L. Calcagni III, for legal advice. Eventually, the police physically removed the man from the scene and called in drug and firearm detection dogs to search the vehicle. The K9 units arrived and alerted to the glove box. This prompted police to forcefully open the container where they discovered large quantities of heroin and fentanyl and a loaded semi-automatic firearm. The discovery of these items triggered the man’s arrest and indictment for drug trafficking and firearm charges. Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer John L. Calcagni III defended him in this matter. Attorney Calcagni conducted full discovery and an independent investigation surrounding circumstances of the motor vehicle stop and subsequent automobile search. He then drafted and filed a motion to suppress on his client’s behalf. The Court conducted a hearing on the motion where the prosecution called one police witness. Attorney Calcagni questioned and cross-examined the witness to show that the police did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain or question his client, or similar legal grounds to justify its search, prior to discovering the contents of the glove box. Based on Attorney Calcagni’s advocacy, legal arguments, and written submissions, the Court granted the motion to suppress. This prompted the prosecution to dismiss this case and its charges against the man, which carried a mandatory minimum jail term of 12 years if convicted.