Category: Drug Charges

The Largest Mass Dismissal of Cases in the History of the United States

Before she crashed and burned, Annie Dookhan was a superhero at the Massachusetts state crime lab. She processed and tested drug samples three times as fast as her colleagues and assisted in obtaining convictions in thousands of cases involving an estimated 40,000 drug samples. An audit performed in 2010 found that she was working unusually [..]

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Curtilage Revisited – Trafficking Weight Cocaine Suppressed

Last December, I wrote about State v. Bash, where the S.C. Supreme Court thankfully re-affirmed that a police officer cannot enter a person’s yard without a warrant or exigent circumstances in order to search for drugs.  The defendant was charged with trafficking in cocaine > 400 grams and trafficking in crack cocaine 10-28 grams.  The [..]

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No Right to Counsel in South Carolina Summary Courts

Of course there is a right to counsel, at least when a person is sentenced to jail time, but it is systematically denied to defendants in our state’s summary courts. Indigent defendants in S.C.’s summary courts typically are not provided with court-appointed counsel, even in serious cases such as DUI or domestic violence (CDV).  In [..]

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When is a Search Warrant Valid?

The short answer is: usually, but you never know until you investigate and challenge it.  In State v. Thompson, the S.C. Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and the trial court, finding that extensive documentation of the defendant’s drug dealings and connection to a particular residence does not constitute probable cause to issue a [..]

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Manslaughter and Drug Overdoses

A pre-filed bill in the South Carolina legislature would spell out that the offense of involuntary manslaughter applies to drug dealers whose customers die from an overdose, and it would increase the penalty for involuntary manslaughter from a maximum of five years to a maximum of 15 years in prison.  The bill would add the [..]

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Gonzalez v. State – Trafficking in Meth and Conflicts of Interest

In Gonzalez v. State, the S.C. Supreme Court granted post conviction relief (PCR) and vacated Gonzalez’ conviction for trafficking in methamphetamine based on his trial counsel’s conflict of interest.  Gonzalez, a juvenile, was convicted of trafficking in meth 400 grams or more after trial and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  His lawyer simultaneously represented [..]

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Trafficking in Meth and Thought Crimes

In State v. Cain, the S.C. Supreme Court held that testimony by a state chemist that a defendant could have produced a theoretical yield of more than 10 grams of meth, where no actual meth was found and there was no evidence of what the defendant could have actually produced, is insufficient to support a [..]

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Curtilage – Can a Police Officer Search Your Yard Without a Warrant?

In State v. Bash, a unanimous S.C. Supreme Court upheld the circuit court’s suppression of powder and crack cocaine based on the officers’ unconstitutional search of the defendant’s yard without consent or a warrant.  An officer testified at trial that “one of the agents . . . received . . . a phone call stating [..]

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Search Warrants – Constitutional and Statutory Requirements

All search warrants are not created equal – if a search warrant is issued and does not meet the constitutional requirements, outlined in the U.S. and S.C. Constitutions, federal and state case law, and the S.C. Code, the evidence obtained with the search warrant may be excluded at trial. Constitutional Requirements Search warrants, how they [..]

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