Not Guilty Possession with the Intent to Deliver – Cops Find Wrong Bag

Not Guilty Possession with the Intent to Deliver – Cops Find Wrong Bag

Joseph Coleman secured a Not Guilty verdict for Possession with the Intent to Deliver (“PWID”) in a Philadelphia waiver trial. PWID is the crime of possessing a drug while intending to deliver it (learn more about drug charges). It is an ungraded felony and, in this case, carried a maximum penalty of 20 years incarceration. A.S., the defendant, rejected the offer to plead guilty to Simple Possession (a misdemeanor) in exchange for one year probation and proceeded to trial.

At trial, the Commonwealth called a police officer who testified that he saw A.S. look into a bag, receive money from a “buyer” in exchange for small objects, and then leave the area. The buyer walked away holding the small objects and, when officers tried to detain him, swallowed the objects. Officers searched the buyer and recovered heroin. A.S. was arrested blocks away and had no drugs on him. Officers searched the area where A.S. allegedly sold drugs and recovered a bag containing a large quantity of crack cocaine in the street. The Commonwealth argued that the evidence proved that A.S. sold crack because the buyer had nothing in his hand before he met with A.S., the buyer must have swallowed the crack, A.S. had $1,600 indicative of selling drugs, and A.S. was looking into the bag with the crack.

On cross-examination, Mr. Coleman established that the officer did not actually see a narcotics transaction because his view was obstructed by a tree. He merely saw A.S. talking to the buyer and the buyer walking away holding the small items. Mr. Coleman also got the officer to admit that there were multiple bags found and one police document indicated that the bag with the crack was actually recovered inside of a trash can (and not on the street). Eventually, the officer conceded that he could not say for certain that the bag A.S. had looked into was the same bag containing crack.

Mr. Coleman argued that the evidence was insufficient to prove A.S. sold crack as the officer did not see a transaction, the buyer had no crack on him, A.S. had no drugs on him, and the bag that A.S. was holding wasn’t proven to be the same bag with the crack. The court agreed and found A.S. not guilty of all charges!