A 39-year-old California man has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison to be followed by four years of supervised release after being convicted of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm. A federal jury found the man guilty of all but one of the charges facing him after a trial lasting three days.
The man's situation took a turn for the worse in February 2016 when his Cadillac sedan was pulled over by police in Menlo Park for having an expired registration tag and unlawfully tinted windows. During the routine traffic stop, officers say they noticed a bag containing a substance that appeared to be marijuana near the center console and a scale on the passenger seat. According to court documents, a subsequent search of the vehicle led to the discovery of undisclosed quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin concealed in one of the car's air vents. Police are also said to have recovered a loaded Glock semiautomatic handgun.
The traffic stop was conducted by officers assigned to the Menlo Park Police Department's Narcotics Enforcement Team. The Federal Bureau of Investigation helped the MPPD and the U.S. Attorney's Office to develop the drug trafficking case against the man. A Department of Justice press release reveals that he has been held in a San Mateo County detention facility since being taken into custody.
Police officers are generally required to obtain a search warrant before searching an individual, residence, or vehicle, but they may conduct warrantless searches when they notice evidence of criminal activity in plain sight. When presented with facts like these, experienced criminal defense attorneys may encourage their clients to avoid a jury trial and seek a negotiated settlement with prosecutors.
Source: The Menlo Park-Atherton Patch, "Peninsula Man Sentenced For Drug Trafficking: DOJ", Sue Wood, April 22, 2019
Source: The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, "Convicted Drug Trafficker Sentenced To 100 Months In Prison", Press release, April 19, 2019