A 46 year old Brooklyn man spent 30 hours behind bars in April of this year for the crime of possession of MDMA pills, an illegal drug better known as ecstasy or E. A drug arrest story would be unremarkable, but for the fact that the pills in his pocket did not go by the name "Ebeneezer Goode." Instead, they were POW brand energy mints, a perfectly legal cocktail of stimulants. Energy mints are similar to energy drinks, containing sugar, caffeine, taurine, vitamins and ginseng, giving the user a legal speed rush.
Perhaps the most misused term in the world of criminal law is "narcotics." Many people who should know better, such as police officers, prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys and crime beat reporters, use the term "narcotic" as a synonym for any illegal drug. Thus, in their use of English, marijuana and cocaine a narcotics, while Oxycodone is a "prescription drug." When I hear such misuse of the term "narcotic" I want to pull out my hair and scream. As a criminal defense attorney interested in linguistics, it is one of my major pet peeves.
Six people have been charged in York County, Pennsylvania with charges related to a cocaine distribution ring, which allegedly distributed the stimulant throughout South Central Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. Following the conclusion of "Operation Special Delivery," the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office alleged that the organization was moving three to four kilos of cocaine a month, or the equivalent of 857 to 1,143 eight-balls, a standard unit in which the drug is often sold to users.
Bath salts have been an illegal drug in Pennsylvania since August, 2011. Possession of bath salts is an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine, while the sale or possession with intent to deliver bath salts is an ungraded felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. But banning a drug does not eliminate demand, and where there is a demand, there will usually be a supply.
Judge Paul Pozonsky, a former Common Pleas Court judge from Washington County in western Pennsylvania, has been charged by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office with restricted activities by a public official, theft, obstruction of justice and possession of a controlled substance, based upon allegations, which appear both bizarre and shocking to anyone familiar with the normal operations of the criminal justice system. The scandal took root when Judge Pozonsky implemented a rather unusual procedural rule in his courtroom. Every county has its own local procedural rules, and sometimes even individual judges within a county have their own unique rules. Keeping track of so many different procedural rules drives lawyers nuts, but in the Judge Pozonsky case, it was the rule itself, which would appear "nuts" to any outside observer. Judge Pozonsky mandated that in all drugs cases, the police were to bring the drugs directly to him prior to trial or a pretrial hearing. The judge would then store the drugs in his chambers until the conclusion of the case.
Everyone knows that it is illegal to sell drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin, but most people are unaware that under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, using a cell phone or email to set up a drug deal constitutes a separate and distinct criminal offense, aside from the actual drug delivery. This offense is known as "criminal use of a communications facility," and it is a third degree felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. Criminal use of a communications facility applies to drug sellers using devices like phones or email to set up drug deals, but it does not apply to those using such devices to buy drugs.
Humans have had cars for but a brief fragment of our evolution, and our old hunter-gatherer instincts still control our actions when faced with danger. When Stacy Henry was pulled over by Ferguson Township Police On May 2, 2013, he had three choices from the instinct menu: fight, flight of freeze. Unfortunately, he made the wrong choice, and tried to flee in his vehicle in a futile attempt to avoid arrest on both new and old drug charges. Not only did he add a fleeing and eluding police charge to his list of new charges, he also caused a serious accident on heavily-trafficked North Atherton Street on the North end of State College.
The plight of championship-winning Boiling Springs wrestling coach Rod Wright serves as a perfect example of why it is often not in your best interests to consent to a search by police. On January 14, 2013, police received an anonymous tip that Wright had drug paraphernalia in his home. The police went to Wright's home and asked for permission to enter the home and look around. Wright was not present, but someone else consented to a search, and, lo and behold, the police found drug paraphernalia.
Today's blog spot is by Adam Rosenblum, a criminal defense attorney practicing in New Jersey and New York City.
A lot of people assume that in drug cases, the big fish get the stiffest sentences, while the least culpable receive the most lenient sentences. In a perfectly fair and just world, that would be the case, but that is not the reality of the American justice system. In actuality, the first to squeal usually gets the best deal.