Second Offense Marijuana Possession and Driving While in Possession of Marijuana: Fine and Probation
Police conducted a traffic stop of Defendant for operating with a defective muffler. Officers identified the Defendant and learned of a warrant for his arrest. Defendant was taken into custody, placed in handcuffs and secured in the backseat of a police cruiser. Police then proceeded to search Defendant’s car. Inside the passenger compartment, they detected an odor of marijuana and located clear plastic baggies concealed in a cigarette package within the center console. The baggies contained a green leafy substance, which tested positive for marijuana. The officers continued their search into Defendant’s trunk. They discovered a box labeled “automotive parts” and searched inside where the officers discovered several plastic baggies, also containing marijuana, and a digital scale. The total quantity of marijuana seized from Defendant’s vehicle was nearly 3 ounces. The officers searched Defendant’s car without a warrant under the guise of an inventory search, which they allege was conducted in accordance with police department policy for inventorying seized automobiles of arrested motorists. Based on the officers’ discoveries, Defendant was charged with both Simple Possession of Marijuana, which was his second offense of this nature, and Operating a Motor Vehicle While in Possession of Marijuana. These charges carried penalties that included a fine, jail time, drug rehabilitation counseling to be attended at the Defendant’s expense, and a mandatory 6-month license suspension. During pretrial discovery, Defendant hired attorney Calcagni to represent him in this matter. After carefully examining the evidence in this case and facts set forth in the police report, Attorney Calcagni filed a pretrial motion challenging the police conduct of performing a warrantless search of Defendant’s automobile. The motion alleged that the police conducted an unlawful inventory search of Defendant’s automobile after his arrest when they should have seized the car and applied for a search warrant. Apparently Attorney Calcagni’s pretrial motion motivated the prosecution to offer an irresistible pretrial plea agreement to the Defendant. With leverage of the pending motion, Attorney Calcagni successfully negotiated that in exchange for Defendant’s plea to Simple Possession of Marijuana – 1st Offense, the prosecution agreed to a sentence consisting of one year of unsupervised probation and a $500 fine, as well as to dismiss the possession while driving charge. The Court accepted Defendant’s plea and sentenced him accordingly. Because of Attorney Calcagni’s vigorous and persistent efforts in this case, the Defendant was spared from incurring a subsequent marijuana conviction, and a 6-month license suspension, which would have had a devastating impact on his out-of-state employment for which he requires a driver’s license.