Federal criminal court trials rarely result in an acquittal on all charges. But that is exactly what a U.S. District Court jury did in the case involving a truck driver accused of smuggling drugs while transporting orange juice to Florida. The case involved charges of three counts of felony federal drug charges, including smuggling. The drugs in question were roughly 5,000 pills of psychedelic tryptamine, which were found in plastic zip-lock bags behind a panel in the suspect’s truck.
The defense attorneys for the Ontario, Canada, citizen successfully argued that although the suspect owned the truck he was not the one who placed the drugs inside of it. Defense attorneys presented evidence that included paperwork that showed there was enough opportunity for someone else to have planted the drugs. The delivery date for the orange juice was scheduled four days prior to what can be assumed to be the discovery of the drugs.
The paperwork presented at trial included invoices, manifests and logs which demonstrated the there was enough opportunity for someone else to have planted the drugs without the defendant’s knowledge. The defense argued that unless federal prosecutors could prove that the truck driver knowingly and intentionally participated in transporting the drugs into the United States, the jury must find him not guilty of the charges.
During the truck driver’s trial, federal prosecutors presented a number of witnesses, including Department of Homeland Security agents who provided testimony that only included finding the drugs inside the truck. In court papers filed prior to the trial, government prosecutors referenced a 2009 investigation involving the defendant and Canadian law enforcement but were forced to acknowledge that the investigation did not result in a conviction.
This case demonstrates that not everyone accused of a crime is actually guilty of that crime. With an experienced criminal defense attorney it is possible to beat the odds as this truck driver did when the jury found him not guilty of smuggling drugs across the U.S. border. Federal drug charges can carry serious consequences beyond a lengthy prison sentence. A criminal conviction can have a significant and long-term impact on a person’s life, including personal relationships and future employment opportunities.
Source: The Buffalo News, Phil Fairbanks, Jan. 29, 2013