Our office was recently retained by a client who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the potential consequences she faced were far more serious than a $25,000.00 fine and 4 years in jail.
This client was originally from the Dominican Republic and was a Legal Permanent Resident (also known as a green card holder). Although she had been in the US for many years, she was unable to find steady full time employment. Her only source of income for the past several months was the money she had earned babysitting.
One day an acquaintance offered to pay her to come and clean his house and the client jumped at the chance to earn a little extra money to take care of her children. When the client got to the house, she realized that she was going to need more cleaning supplies so the owner of the house went to purchase what she needed while she stayed there and continued working.
The client was in an upstairs bedroom cleaning when all of the sudden, she heard a loud bang coming from downstairs. She came out in the hallway to see what the noise was and was shocked to see eight uniformed police officers, all with their guns drawn, entering the house. Upon seeing her, one of the officers yelled for her to put her hands in the air and not to move another inch. The client was quickly handcuffed and led downstairs.
An officer kept asking her questions in English, but she couldn’t understand them. She had no idea what was happening or why the officers were there. The client witnessed the officers conduct a thorough search of the house including opening kitchen cabinets, closets, and boxes and even cutting holes in the walls.
Suddenly, an officer held up a large bag that contained a white powder. The bag had been found behind the upstairs toilet tank. Another officer asked her, in Spanish, if the drugs were hers. When the client tried to explain that the drugs were not hers and she had been hired by the owner of the house to clean, the officer accused her of lying and accused her of residing there. The client was arrested for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (not marijuana) and taken to the station for booking.
Several days later when she came to our office, the client was badly shaken up by the experience. She feared that because of this incident, she and her children would be removed from the US and sent back to the Dominican Republic. Our criminal defense and immigration attorneys worked together closely on this case to ensure that wouldn’t happen.
Our attorneys immediately got to work gathering evidence that would create more than a reasonable doubt. First, they spoke to the client’s landlord and convinced him to write an affidavit stating how long the client had been living on his property. This affidavit was then attached to a copy of her lease. They also collected several months’ worth of bank statements showing the rent payments she had written each month to her landlord. Our attorneys also obtained a certified copy of the deed to the house where she had been arrested. They interviewed extended family members and neighbors who had been to the client’s home many times and would be able to testify that she did not live at the address where she had been arrested.
Additionally, our criminal defense attorneys conducted thorough research on the validity of the search warrant. It was immediately apparent that there was defect in the warrant– the address of the house had been misspelled. They also researched the elements that the State’s attorney would have to prove in order for the client to be convicted of possession. Based on the discovery surrendered by the State’s Attorney, it was clear that he was going to make a “constructive possession” argument at trial.
Constructive possession is when the person does not physically have contact with the object, but they have knowledge that it is there and they have the ability to control the object. In the course of their research, our attorneys ensured that no stone was left unturned. Every possible defense and argument was researched and prepared for.
On the day of trial, our attorneys were armed with ample case law that would disprove the State’s theory of the case as well as voluminous amounts of evidence that would prove the client did not reside in the home where she had been arrested.
Prior to the trial starting, our attorney had a few minutes to speak to the State’s Attorney. During this time, he and the State’s Attorney discussed the evidence and case law that had been collected by our office. After stepping away a moment to speak with the police officers, the State’s Attorney quickly relented in his prosecution of this case and admitted that he was unable to meet the burden of proof in this case.
When the Judge took the bench that day, the case against our client was dismissed. The client would spend no time in jail, would not have to pay any fine, and could continue to live here in the US without fearing that at any moment she was going to be removed from the country and sent back to the Dominican Republic.
If you or a loved one is under investigation for drug possession or distribution, Anthony A. Fatemi and his legal team can make sure that every possible defense and argument is made on your behalf just as they did for this client. Contact their offices today to set up a criminal consultation.