Just because the state charges a person with various drug offenses, doesn’t necessarily mean that prosecutors will be able to prove at trial that the defendant actually committed the specific violations. In Delgado-George v. State, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals tossed out a conviction on one significant drug charge for lack of evidence.
Mr. Delgado-George was charged with marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession after Polk County police officers stopped his car for a traffic infraction in the parking lot of a local bar in January 2011. The officers said they smelled marijuana as they approached the car and that Delgado-George told them that he had been smoking the drug at a friend’s house. When the cops asked Delgado-George whether he had any weapons or contraband on him or in the car, he responded by handing them a purple Crown Royal bag. Inside, the officers found seven individual bags containing what later tested positive as marijuana.
Following his arrest, the police said Delgado-George explained that he had the individual bags because he had intended to sell them inside the bar. He later denied making this statement, however, asserting instead that he’d bought the baggies for his own use and hadn’t bothered to repackage the marijuana afterward. According to Delgado-George, he was waiting in the parking lot to meet a friend and discuss buying a car.
In addition to the other two charges, the State also charged Delgado-George with actual or constructive possession of a conveyance used for the trafficking, sale or manufacture of controlled substances. The State argued that he was using his car to sell marijuana. The trial court denied Delgado-George’s motion to dismiss this charge and he was later convicted of all three charges following trial.
Reversing the lower court’s decision on appeal, the Second District said there wasn’t enough evidence to support the conviction on the conveyance charge. Section 893.1351(2), Florida Statutes, prohibits a person from knowingly or constructively being in possession of a conveyance with the knowledge that it “will be used” for drug trafficking. While the evidence may have shown that Delgado-George intended to sell the marijuana that he had in his possession at the time he was stopped, the court said there was nothing to show that he intended to use his vehicle in the sale.
That he used the car to get to the bar where he intended to sell the marijuana wasn’t enough, according to the court. “Delgado-George’s use of the vehicle could have facilitated a sale simply because it was a means of transportation to the location where he intended to consummate the sales,” the court said. “Absent Delgado-George’s admission, however, there was nothing unique about this vehicle that would indicate its intended use was to traffic, sell or manufacture controlled substances.”
As a result, the court reversed the conviction on the conveyance charge.
If you’re facing drug possession or trafficking charges, you are well-advised to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you mount the strongest possible defense. The South Florida drug trafficking defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are dedicated to providing our clients with aggressive, competent and high-quality representation. We are prepared to defend your rights and help achieve the best outcome possible.
Related blog posts: