Drugs and guns charges were dismissed against V.N. following a preliminary hearing. V.N. was arrested and charged with Possession with the Intent to Distribute (“PWID”), Possession of a Controlled Substance, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, and Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia.
Possession of a Controlled Substance makes it a crime for a person to possess an illegal drug, while PWID makes it a crime for a person to possess an illegal drug intending to deliver it to another person (commonly by selling it). Both Carrying a Firearm Without a License and Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia make it a crime, in part, for a person to possess a firearm.
One of the first steps in the criminal process is the preliminary hearing, which is to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. The burden of proof is very low, as the government must only prove that it is more likely than not (51%) that the defendant committed the crimes charged. As a result, most charges are “held for court” (proceed towards trial).
At the preliminary hearing, the police officer testified that he observed V.N. accept money from two different buyers. Afterward, V.N. went out of view for a few minutes, returned, and handed small items to the buyers. The officer testified that this activity was consistent with a typical drug sale.
The buyers were arrested and recovered from one were two purple packets of cocaine, and retrieved from the other one were two blue packets and two yellow packets of cocaine. V.N. was arrested and recovered from him was one blue packet of cocaine and $5. Police also recovered one purple packet of cocaine and a firearm from underneath steps in the area where V.N. disappeared from the police view.
Attorney Joseph Coleman made a motion to dismiss all charges, except for Possession of a Controlled Substance, for lack of evidence. He established, through cross-examination, that the narcotics recovered from the buyers were $10 bags and, therefore, it did not make sense that V.N. would only have $5 after selling six packets.
Furthermore, Mr. Coleman confronted the officer with a police report, and he admitted that the container found under the stairs, with the gun, was not purple as he had testified to – but was red. Therefore, Mr. Coleman argued that the red packet and the firearm could not be attributed to V.N. as the police never saw V.N. go to the stairs, and nobody had a red packet.
The court was persuaded by Mr. Coleman’s argument and dismissed the felony charges. This has a significant effect on the case as the government dropped the remaining charge. Most lawyers do not attack the credibility of a witness at the preliminary hearing, but the lawyers at Montoya Coleman Refuse to Lose! Learn more about gun charges and drug charges.