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Charges Dropped in Cocaine Case After Judge Throws Out Evidence

A criminal defendant faced seemingly daunting criminal charges for possession and intent to distribute three kilos of cocaine, charges that could result in 20 years in prison. Two police officers testified that they had seen the defendant place a bag containing the drugs on an apartment building fire escape. But the prosecutors dropped the charges after the judge found that the evidence against the man was not credible.

The Times of Trenton reported that this case had been billed as one of the largest drug busts ever in Trenton. But no matter the amount of drugs allegedly seized or what the police officers might say, if the evidence in the case was obtained in violation of constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, it can be excluded from a criminal trial.

The arresting officer in the case alleged that a tip from an informant led him to believe that a significant amount of drugs were being moved in the apartment building. The arresting officer and his partner later testified that they had seen the defendant place the bag on a fire escape.

During a hearing to suppress that evidence, the judge decided their stories did not add up. The officers' testimony during the hearing revealed inconsistencies. The judge said that these inconsistencies undermined the court's confidence in the officers' allegation for the legal basis for the seizures. The court threw out the evidence because, according to its ruling, "the court is unable to conclude that their version of the facts, as it relates to the discovery of the cocaine and the steps taken to seize it, were more likely true than not."

Source: The Trenton Times Charges dropped in $90G drug bust Lisa Coryell January 9, 2011

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