We had a jury trial 3 years back where my client who had been otherwise a perfectly well-behaved or a perfect citizen with absolutely no arrest. He walked to the post office one sunny day and picked up a packet that was delivered to his address from Germany. He signed for it and looked at the return addressee, signed for it, walked out, put the package in his trunk and then about 10 police officers arrested him. They opened the package later and they found several founds of high grade opium. He was prosecuted because he accepted the package and put it in his trunk and he didn’t testify and it was a hung jury after a 4-day trial. Then upon retrial, the prosecutor decided to throw in the towel and offered him a possession charge if he agreed to go to jail for a year.
We took that because it was a misdemeanor and with the amount of opium, if he’d been convicted, the judge told him at sentencing he would have sentenced him to 10 years minimum jail because of the high amount of opium. That was certainly a victory. Now, he did get a year sentence but he got work release soon thereafter and maintained a non-felony record and to this day he is somebody that has continued on with his successful work career and that was a big success story. If it weren’t for that hung jury, then he would have been probably still in jail till this day. It’s really important to approach every single case as if it’s going to be a trial and to presume that we are going to find every loophole and every argument for not guilty or dismissal.
In this particular case, the reason that the police arrested him so quickly in the parking lot after he put the package in his trunk is they thought they had an open-and-shut case and so did the prosecutor but the jury thought otherwise. If they had just waited until he walked with the package in his apartment and then executed a search warrant on the apartment maybe about 20 minutes later, they may have had an open package in the apartment with lots of drugs spilled out all over the apartment but they decided not to do that. Our argument to the jury essentially in closing was that may have been one of the possibilities but they also may have seen a man hurrying 20 minutes later out of his apartment to the trash dumpster behind the apartment to throw away the package that he was shocked to see had something totally different than he expected inside and we’ll never know which one it would be. And that was kind of a convincing argument for the jury that they should have waited.
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