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Court Decides if it Will Accept Independent Evidence


Police officers were assigned to conduct surveillance of an apartment in Brooklyn on suspicion of sale and possession of heroin. The police observed the apartment from 11 am to 1:30 pm of October 22, 1971 before one occupant (the first man) of the apartment came out. Forty-five minutes after that a second man knocked on the apartment door and spoke with the man who opened the door. A New York DWI Lawyer said the second man entered the apartment. An hour later, the second man came out of the apartment accompanied by the owner of the apartment.. The police arrested these two men.

When the police were approaching the apartment, the man who first left the apartment came back. The police arrested him as he got off the elevator. The police knocked at the door and a fourth man answered the door. The police entered the apartment and found a woman lying naked on the bed under the blankets.

On the kitchen table, the police found one thousand three hundred plastic sachets. A New York DWI Lawyer said they also found two huge plastic bags with white powder; a big plastic bag contained capsules. They found a scale, three boxes of cellophane, and a box of rubber bands.

The four men and the woman were all herded into the living room and arrested for criminal heroin possession and sale. The owner of the apartment pleaded guilty to the crime and he testified as a witness for the prosecution.

The apartment owner testified that he owned the apartment and that the three men and the lady were all his partners. The first man sold the drugs directly to retail buyers on the street, the second man distributed to other sellers. The third man, the one who answered the door was the office guy. He answered phone calls and took messages. He also kept the records of sales. The lady kept house for the men.

The three men and the lady were all convicted by the jury after a trial and found them guilty of criminal heroin possession and sale. The three men and the lady all appealed their conviction on the ground that they were convicted by the sole testimony of their co-accomplice without any independent corroborative evidence that proves the crime was committed.

The only question before the Court was whether or not the People were able to produce evidence at trial that corroborated the testimony of the owner of the apartment, their co-accused and accomplice.

The Court explained the reason for requiring that independent evidence be presented to corroborate the testimony of a co-accused and accomplice. The Court stated that co-accused may be motivated by ill-will, a desire for revenge, or by a desire to be discharged from prosecution that he might say anything whether true or not. Thus the need for corroborative evidence was mandated by the law.

The Court also opined that the reason for the requirement of corroborative evidence is the rule that no accused may be found guilty only on the basis of his own confession. A Nassau County DWI Lawyer said the Court also held that corroborative evidence is that evidence which connects the defendant with the crime and that which tends to prove that a crime was indeed committed.

Here, the independent corroborative evidence are the plastic sachets, the white powder which turned out to be heroin, the capsules, rubber bands and the weighing scale. The number of plastic envelopes, the volume of heroin and the other drug paraphernalia give rise to the inference that criminal heroin possession and sale were indeed taking place in the apartment.

The heroin and the paraphernalia were all found in the kitchen table of the apartment. This gives rise to the presumption that all the accused who were regularly present in the apartment were indeed engaged in heroin possession and sale. This evidence connects the accused with the crime.

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