Caridad Hernandez is a 51 year old grandmother who lives in Lawrence, Massachusetts. On September 5, 2008, she was arrested for trafficking cocaine over 28 grams, trafficking cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school zone and possession with intent to distribute prescription drugs. Charges will be initially filed in the Lawrence District Court. After the case is indicted the case will be handled in the Essex County Superior Court. Lawrence police stated that the drugs were found in sandwich bags, a candy tin and pill bottles. Officers also located drug packaging paraphernalia. According to an article in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune police had made several controlled buys from the defendant. Afterwards they obtained a search warrant. It was during the execution of the search warrant that the majority of the drugs were located. Read Article, Lawrence Eagle Tribune, September 6, 2008.
Search warrants in Massachusetts are governed by G.L. c. 276 et seq. Search warrants can be issued in Massachusetts upon a showing of probable cause. Police officers seeking to conduct a search are required to file an affidavit with a judge or clerk magistrate. The affidavit must contain facts and information upon which the officer relies that are sufficient to establish probable cause for the warrant to issue. Criminal defense lawyers often challenge the issuance of the warrant through motions to suppress. Grounds for the motion to suppress vary from case to case. Sometimes criminal defense lawyers challenge the sufficiency of the facts in the affidavit and ask the judge to suppress the search. Other times criminal defense lawyers challenge the integrity of the officer’s representations by asking the judge to look beyond the affidavit by using collateral evidence to show the judge that these facts were untrue.
In this case Caridad Hernandez is looking at a minimum mandatory state prison sentence of 7 years. The trafficking over 28 grams carries a mandatory 5 and the school zone carries a minimum mandatory 2 that must be served from and after the trafficking sentence is served. It is likely that during the course of her defense her attorneys will try to locate anyone who was present during the controlled buys to ascertain the accuracy of the police officer’s account of these transactions. I also imagine that a motion to suppress will be filed challenging the constitutionality of the search.
Law Offices of Stephen Neyman Criminal Lawyers has 20 years of experience handling drug trafficking cases. We have won cases such as this by filing and arguing successful motions to suppress. We have also tried similar cases to a jury and won acquittals for our clients. If you have been charged with a drug crimes in Massachusetts you should contact our office now.
Related Web Resources:
Massachusetts Sentencing Guidelines
Lawrence, Massachusetts Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer, Kathleen M. McCarthy