Monday, April 8, 2019

Possession with intent, aggregation of amounts no longer permitted in federal prosecutions

Prepared as a public service from the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Elizabeth, New Jersey, a criminal defense attorney fighting for your acquittal.
(Telephone, 908-354-7006)

In United States v. Rowe, a federal appeals court reversed a 1,000 grams of heroin case based on the fact that the defendant was engaged in numerous smaller sales.
The Third Circuit held that the Prosecutor can no longer aggregate the sales.  In this case the court held that it was improper for the government to add up several smaller possessions and distributions to reach the 1,000 gram level.

In order to convict the defendant for possession with intent to distribute the thousand grams the defendant had to possess and intent to distribute this amount at a single time.

Although this law does not apply in New Jersey it should because many prosecutions of larger quantities of CDS is made by the State adding up all the quantities to reach the over 5 ounce level.

The court turned to the reasoning in U.S. v. Benjamin (possession of handgun case), and held “we conclude that possession of 1,000 grams of heroin begins when a defendant has the power and intention to exercise dominion and control over all 1,000 grams, and ends when his possession is interrupted by a complete dispossession or by a reduction of that quantity to less than 1,000 grams.”

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., practicing criminal defense for 29 years.

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