Saturday night, as a result of a surveillance, Methuen police officers arrested three men for violating the controlled substances laws. According the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, the Methuen Police Drug Unit was conducting a surveillance at the intersection of Lowell Street and Wheeler Avenue. Around 5:00 p.m. officers observed what they believed to be a drug transaction. When they attempted an arrest one of the subjects, Jose Mercedes-Leon fled on foot into the woods. After a forty five minute chase Mercedes-Leon was apprehended. He was charged with subsequent offense distribution of heroin, conspiracy, disorderly person, resisting arrest, providing a false name to police and trespassing. Mercedes-Leon was also charged with being a fugitive from justice for defaulting on charges of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in Rhode Island.
Two other men, Walter Zachary and Blair Despres, were also arrested in connection with this incident. They were both charged with trafficking heroin and conspiracy. Fifteen grams of heroin were found in their possession.
Attorney Stephen Neyman represents people accused of drug crimes in Massachusetts and throughout the country. Cases such as the one discussed above are routinely defended by our office. In this case, since both Zachary and Despres were charged with trafficking heroin it is likely that the prosecution will proceed against one of them as a joint venturer and the other as a principle. There is a simple distinction that separates those theories. Principles are those who actually commit the act. The person directly distributing or selling the substance is the principle. A joint venturer is someone who is “(1) present at the scene of the crime, (2) with knowledge that another intends to commit the crime or with intent to commit a crime, and (3) by agreement is willing and available to help the other if necessary.” In Massachusetts the penalties for the principle and joint venturer are the same.
It is important to keep in mind there merely being present at the scene does not give rise to liability as a joint venturer. The best criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts undersand this distinction and are often capable of getting their clients acquitted where they were present with no involvement. If you have questions about a drug crime or your criminal responsibility in a case contact our office now.
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