Jun 14, 2019 Suspects need to be silent with police says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Suspects who talk with police are cruising for a bruising, says Fairfax criminal attorney
Suspects and everyone else have the right to remain silent with police. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I have seen too many criminal defendants create their own nooses by not keeping their mouths shut with police. Even in states requiring a person to identify himself when police have reasonable suspicion of a crime, that can be done non-verbally by producing identification.
Canton Johnson’s verbal diarrhea got him convicted of two counts of possession with intent to distribute LSD and Ecstasy (respectively) where his silence probably at worst would have gotten him simple drug possession convictions. Johnson v. Virginia, Record No. 0899-18-1 (Va. App. June 11, 2019) (unpublished).
Fairfax criminal defense lawyer on suspects being a sitting duck when carrying contraband with burned out vehicle lights
While possessing LSD / acid and MDMA / Ecstasy (formally ,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), Canton Johnson drove a vehicle with broken brake light. Police love stopping vehicles even for minor violations, as a way to justify the stop in the first place or else to see if they find DUI, contraband, or other jailable criminal activity. The Supreme Court allows that.
Smoking marijuana in a car invites police searches
As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I repeatedly see police having a field day by claiming probable cause to search vehicles and suspects for marijuana when they claim to have smelled smoked marijuana in the car. Smoked marijuana has an unmistakable stink, Johnson’s stopping officer smelled burnt cannabis in his stopped car. That provided police not only with probable cause to search his car for marijuana but also to search him.
Fairfax criminal lawyer on police authority to search incident to arrest before arresting
Once police have probable cause to arrest suspects, they may conduct a search incident to arrest of the person even before arresting him or her. Johnson. Consequently, even though Johnson’s police officer did not intend to arrest him for marijuana possession, Johnson reminds us that probable cause depends only on objective facts, and not the subjective opinion of the police officer.
Virginia drug attorney warns about calling police as witnesses
Hopefully recognizing the risks of doing so, Johnson’s attorney presented the testimony of a police officer to state that evidence (apparently due to a modest amount of seized drugs) was consistent with personal use of LSD and Ecstasy. However, when the prosecutor informed the same testifying cop that Johnson had admitted to selling drugs, the officer then testified that the circumstances were consistent with drug distribution.
The court sitting without a jury convicted Johnson of both possession with intent to distribute LSD and MDMA, each of which carries up to forty years in prison. Va. Code § 18.2-248. An online records check indicates that Johnson did not appear for sentencing, which is pending for September 2019. Usually criminal appeals to the Virginia Court of Appeals take place after sentencing .
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz has successfully defended hundreds of clients charged with drug offenses ranging from possession to sales to cultivation. to discuss your defense with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation.