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Evidence Suppressed/Drug Case Dismissed

A family hired Mr. Provini to represent their adult son who was charged with possession for sale of methamphetamine and marijuana. This young man had a long standing drug problem, had previously been sentenced to state prison, and was on parole at the time of his arrest. If convicted, the young man would have received a state prison sentence followed by deportation to the Fiji Islands, and permanent exclusion from the United States. The young man, who is not a citizen, had been granted waiver of removal following his previous firearms conviction, and was not eligible for this relief again. He would have been separated from his entire family who had established a life in this country, and from his pregnant American girlfriend.

The District Attorney offered to dismiss the possession for sale of methamphetamine count if the defendant pled no contest to the possession for sale of marijuana count. Mr. Provini rejected this offer because of the severe immigration consequences, and because he believed that the car stop was illegal under the Fourth Amendment. He further contended that the defendant’s consent to search his car (where the drugs were found) was the fruit of the poisonous tree. Mr. Provini filed a motion to suppress evidence at the Preliminary Examination. After cross-examination of the police officer, filing of a brief on the law, and argument to the court, the Preliminary Hearing Judge granted the motion to suppress all evidence against the defendant. The judge then dismissed the case when the District Attorney could not proceed without the evidence. The officer’s testimony that he pulled the vehicle over because it had tinted windows was held to be insufficient to justify the car stop. All evidence, observations, and statements following the stop were therefore required to be suppressed as fruit of the illegal stop.