Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

In a recent Texas drug case, the defendant appealed the trial court decision, arguing that his conviction was the result of law enforcement violating his Fourth Amendment rights, evidence that should have been suppressed, and ineffective defense counsel. The defendant was convicted of a gram or less of methamphetamine, a state jail felony. The trial court then sentenced him to state jail for 12 months.

Facts of the Case

Law enforcement officers were directed by a dispatcher to a location with reported shots fired. There, witnesses described the shooter as wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. They stated that the man was walking northbound, pointing in the direction they saw him walking. A police officer began driving in the direction they pointed, and after a block or two, spotted the defendant. He detained the defendant, patted him down, and after finding nothing, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the patrol car. Without probable cause to arrest the defendant, the officer was about to release him when he asked for consent to search the defendant’s person. The officer had not told the defendant he was free to go. After receiving verbal consent, the officer conducted the search, finding a small packet of white substance in the defendant’s pocket. After field testing it, it came back positive for methamphetamine, and the defendant was arrested. After the arrest, the substance was sent for laboratory testing and determined to be methamphetamine.

The Appeal

Following the trial, the defendant presented three issues for appeal. (1) law enforcement violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, (2) the evidence discovered from the unlawful search should have been suppressed or excluded from the trial, and (3) at trial, the defense counsel was ineffective by failing to file a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence and by failing to object to the introduction of the illegally obtained evidence. The appellate court found that the first two issues were not preserved for appeal as he never presented his complaint to the trial court and never asked the trial court to suppress or exclude the allegedly inadmissible evidence.

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In a recent Texas criminal case, the defendant appealed the trial court decision, arguing that his conviction was the result of discovery violations, and false evidence, and was based on insufficient evidence. The defendant was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2, in an amount greater than or equal to one gram but less than four grams. The trial court then sentenced him to six years of incarceration.

Facts of the Case

The defendant was arrested for possessing vape cartridges containing what law enforcement officers believed to be THC. Following his arrest, the officers sent the confiscated cartridges to a laboratory under contract with the State of Texas. Ultimately, evidence and testimony from members of the laboratory resulted in the successful conviction of the defendant by the State. In particular, the laboratory’s director, Kelly Wouters, played a vital role in the State’s case.

While Wouters testified as a surrogate witness for the work and analysis performed by other people in the laboratory, questioning by the State gave the impression that Wouters himself had performed certain aspects of the hands-on analysis and tasks. When pressed on the issue, Wouters stated that he was in charge of supervision for those tasks, though he admitted that he was not personally in a position to know if a worker was violating protocols. Additionally, Wouters attempted to establish through his testimony that he personally participated in the laboratory quality control measures when it came to the analysis of the evidence in this case. In fact, he was not present for the lab testing or the implementation of quality control measures when it came to the examination of evidence in this case. Additionally, the State did not identify the specific employees that conducted the laboratory analysis that Wouters claimed to be responsible for.

The defendant’s attorney emphasized the importance of the laboratory records to the State, but the existence of additional laboratory workers was revealed only just prior to the beginning of the trial and the State downplayed the role that those workers played in the testing process. Additionally, based on testimony by an expert witness called by the defendant, the 39-page laboratory packet provided by the State was “grossly insufficient” and “significantly lacking” when it came to making meaningful conclusions from the data. Finally, the State’s laboratory expert testified that due to chemical tendencies, the content within the pods would convert to the illegal THC that was being tested for.

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In a recent Texas drug case, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court decision, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, that the trial court’s denial of the motion for a new trial was not so clearly wrong as to lie outside that zone within which reasonable persons might disagree, and that the evidence presented was sufficient for the trial court to find appellant guilty of the charged offense. The appellant was charged with possessing two vape cartridges containing THC and entered a plea of not guilty and waived his right to a jury.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the appellant was encountered by police officers as they responded to a criminal trespass call from an L.A. Fitness location in August 2019. One of the police officers performed a consent search of the appellant’s personal property and discovered a small box containing two THC vape cartridges in his fanny pack. The labeling on the box indicated that the content was created with medical cannabis. The police officer took the evidence to the police station, where it was inventoried. Following the completion of a drug lab submission form, the evidence was sent to Armstrong Forensic Laboratory (Armstrong) for analysis. Armstrong was asked to test the fluid for controlled substances, including delta-9 THC, one of the isomers of THC. In Texas, a delta-9 THC concentration threshold of 0.3 percent distinguishes whether a substance is hemp, which is legal, or not. Dr. Kelly Wouters, Armstrong’s director, testified that the fluid in each vape cartridge tested positive for delta-9 THC above the threshold amount.

The State introduced into evidence a lab report prepared by Wouters and a case filed, which contained bench notes, raw analytical data, calibrations on quality control methods, and backstops to ensure the testing was performed correctly. The defense counsel questioned Wouters on cross-examination regarding a number of things, including the chain of custody for the evidence at Armstrong. Wouters testified that the case file did not include any chain of custody details, but the names of four or five individuals at the lab who could have touched the evidence and information regarding who received and analyzed the samples could be made available. The names were made available to the defense counsel, but no further questions were asked about the work performed and nobody else from the lab was called to testify. The trial court found the appellant guilty of THC possession as charged in the indictment and sentenced him to six years of confinement.

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In a recent drug case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant appealed his conviction of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. In the defendant’s argument, he emphasized the fact that when a local police officer stopped him on the road one evening, the officer prolonged the traffic stop unnecessarily. Thus, the trial court should have suppressed the incriminating evidence that the officer found during the stop. The higher court reviewed the law around searches and seizures but ultimately disagreed with the defendant, denying his appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving on the highway when a patrolling officer stopped him for not having a front license plate. The officer conducted a regular traffic stop, asking for the defendant’s driver’s license as well as his insurance information. Instead of a license, the defendant pulled out a Texas ID card and said that his license was “buried under tickets” somewhere in the car.

The defendant admitted a few minutes later that he did not actually have a driver’s license. Over the course of the defendant’s conversation with the officer, he provided jumbled responses when the officer inquired as to where the defendant was coming from and where he was headed. When the officer asked about the defendant’s previous arrests, the defendant mentioned one assault charge; however, upon conducting a computer check, the officer discovered that the defendant had other charges on his record for drug possession.

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In a recent opinion coming out of a Texas court, the defendant argued that a lower court had unreasonably denied his motion to suppress incriminating evidence. After considering the appeal, the higher court affirmed that the evidence was properly admitted, and the defendant’s appeal was denied.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two police officers were on duty when they received a call about a fight happening in a Family Dollar parking lot. The manager of the store had called the police to notify them of a man and woman arguing outside the entrance; during the call, the manager provided a description of the man’s vehicle as well as the direction he left the parking lot.

The officers responding to the call searched for a vehicle matching the manager’s description and quickly found a car of the same make and model. The officers initiated a traffic stop by pulling over the car, which was occupied by the defendant in this case. The defendant began speaking with the officers, immediately admitting that he had been involved in the Family Dollar altercation.

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In a recent drug case coming out of a Texas court, the higher court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that incriminating evidence should have been suppressed. Originally, the defendant in the case was charged with marijuana possession, but he filed a motion to suppress the drugs because he did not give officers voluntary consent to search his home. The lower court agreed and accepted the defendant’s motion to suppress. When the State of Texas appealed this decision, the higher court kept the original ruling in place and suppressed the incriminating evidence.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was out of town when his ex-wife called the police to report that there was marijuana in his house. She told the police that she was at the defendant’s house to pick up her minor son, but in reality, she already had her son with her and it was not a scheduled pick-up day.

Two officers went to the defendant’s home and found a small attached garage and greenhouse. As they walked towards the garage, the officers smelled marijuana. They looked through the window of the greenhouse and saw what they thought were marijuana plants. The officers called the defendant and said to him that they located his marijuana and would cause property damage if he did not consent to their search of the home.

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In a recent drug case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant’s challenge to a lower court’s ruling was denied. The defendant took issue with the fact that the lower court denied her motion to suppress incriminating evidence, evidence that ultimately led to her conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Despite the defendant’s argument that the lower court improperly denied this motion to suppress, her appeal was ultimately denied.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the police officer involved in this case was posted in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store with the purpose of making sure people leaving the store arrived safely to their cars. The store’s employees had also asked the officer to tell the driver of a vehicle that had been parking in the store’s lot overnight to stop parking there.

A vehicle matching the employees’ description approached the parking lot, but then the driver changed course upon seeing the officer and drove away. The officer contacted dispatch and recognized the driver’s name as someone he had previously charged with drug possession. The officer followed the driver, who later became the defendant in this case. The defendant turned into a Dairy Queen parking lot, turned out her car’s lights, and eventually returned to the Family Dollar parking lot.

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In a recent drug case in Texas, the court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating evidence. Originally charged with possession of PCP, the defendant appealed his guilty verdict by arguing that the court should not have denied his motion to suppress evidence. The higher court rejected the defendant’s argument, affirming the original verdict in his case.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a police officer in Texas somehow obtained information about a planned gang shooting that was supposed to happen in the near future. The officer learned that one member of the gang was en route to pick up guns from a private residence, so the officer immediately went to the house to see if he could see any suspicious activity. At some point during that surveillance, the officer saw the defendant drive up to the house, stop briefly, then drive away.

After following the car for a few minutes, the officer saw the defendant turn without signaling. The officer and his partner put on their lights to initiate a traffic stop. The defendant began driving slowly for about a minute before he finally pulled over – the officers suspected this was so he could hide the guns he had just taken from the house. When the officers were able to approach the stopped vehicle, they smelled marijuana. They then searched the car and the defendant himself, finding a bag of marijuana as well as a bottle of PCP in the defendant’s pants. The defendant was later found guilty of possession of PCP weighing more than 4 and less than 200 grams.

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The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects residents from unreasonable search and seizure of their property by law enforcement. The legal remedy for a defendant whose constitutional rights are violated in this context is the exclusion of any evidence found in such a search from their criminal prosecution. Although this rule seems straightforward and beneficial to Americans who are accused of crimes, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are known to violate this rule and usually do all they can to admit evidence collected as a result of illegal searches. A Texas appellate court recently reversed a lower court decision allowing evidence to be admitted against a drug defendant that had come from an illegal search.

In the recently decided case, the defendant was stopped by an officer for operating a motor vehicle without registration tags. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant stopped his vehicle in a well-lit area near a gas station and was outside of the vehicle when the officer approached him. After making contact with the defendant, the officer requested that he put his hands behind his back so he could perform a “pat down” for weapons. As the officer attempted to put his hands inside one of the defendant’s pockets, the defendant began to resist, breaking free from the officer and fleeing behind a dumpster. The officer followed the defendant, placing him under arrest and finding a small bag of drugs on the ground, which was presumably dropped by the defendant after he was out of the officer’s line of sight.

The defendant was arrested and charged for drug possession. Before trial, the defendant challenged the admission of the drug evidence against him, arguing that he did not consent to a search and that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to reach into his pocket during the pat down. The prosecution claimed that the search was legal and consented to by the defendant, and even if it was an illegal search that the defendant’s own conduct in fleeing from the officer and throwing the drugs on the ground himself meant that the evidence was not found in the course of the search. The trial court accepted the prosecution’s arguments and ultimately convicted the defendant and sentenced him to 5 years of incarceration.

While Texas has taken some small steps in light of the national shift towards the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, the drug is largely still illegal except for those with a valid prescription. The continued prohibition on marijuana possession—even in small amounts—has led many to seek out legal alternatives to marijuana. However, as lawmakers catch on to these new substances, they quickly respond by passing new laws and using existing laws to prosecute these look-alike drugs.

What Is Delta 8?

Delta 8, or Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of about 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant. While Delta 8 is a naturally occurring substance, cannabis plants produce only a minimal amount of Delta 8. Delta 8 provides a similar “high” to smoking or ingesting marijuana. However, when someone consumes marijuana in its traditional form, it is Delta 9 THC that creates the intoxicating effect. However, taking Delta 8 will cause the user to test positive on a drug test.

Because marijuana plants produce so little Delta 8, most Delta 8 products are created using hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). Currently, at least for now, Delta 8 products are available in smoke shops and CBD stores across Texas for customers over the age of 21. However, the legality of Delta has recently been called into question.

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