Lawrence Massachusetts Man Charged With Possession Of Cocaine With Intent To Distribute In A School Zone, Possession Of Marijuana With Intent To Distribute In A School Zone And Related Charges
The Lawrence Eagle Tribune recently reported that twenty-seven year old Luis Nunez of Lawrence Massachusetts has been charged with possession of maijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in a school zone, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and resisting arrest. According to the Tribune, police responded to the area of Bennington Street and saw a parked car and heard loud music coming from inside. Apparently, a man was seen dancing in the Bennington Street area.
The paper indicated that when the police checked Nunez's pockets they found a substance that they believe is cocaine. When the defendant was being booked at the police station the authorities claim that he was in possession of three small bags of what they think is marijuana. The defendant was charged with the above described drug related crimes and resisting arrest.
Although all of the facts of this case are not known at this time, it appears that the defense should examine the circumstances that led up to the police “finding” the alleged controlled substance in the defendant’s pocket. The Fourth Amendment to The United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. In other words, individuals in this country enjoy a reasonable expectation or privacy relative to their person, home and other protected areas such as in their office and car. Here, Nunez had an expectation of privacy on his “person” unless the government can demonstrate that the authorities had probable cause that Nunez was committing, had committed or was about to commit a crime. Another exception could arguably be that there were “exigent” circumstances that eliminate the need for the police to get a warrant before searching Nunez. These circumstances generally include a situation in which the officers are in fear for their safety or for the safety of others. Based on the available information from this article, it does not appear that there was any indication that Nunez was armed or dangerous thus, this is likely not an exception that would apply to the facts in this case.
An experienced Massachusetts Criminal defense lawyer would likely file a motion to suppress in this case. The defendant could move to suppress the stop and search of the defendant at the Bennington Street area and the search of him during the booking process. The defendant may claim that the fact that the police were called to Bennington Street did not justify them searching Nunez’s pockets. In fact, depending on the circumstances, once the police arrived and saw the defendant, they could have just told him to turn down the music and be on this way. Even though there was apparently music coming from the car, the defendant was not charged with any criminal or civil violations relative to the operation of the vehicle. Thus, a viable argument could be made that the police had no right to search Nunez at the scene. If the search at the scene it held to be unconstitutional then the marijuana confiscated from the search of Nunez at the police station would also likely be suppress as “fruits of the poisonous” tree.