This is the case wherein the court reiterated its New York rule that one who acts solely as the agent of a purchaser of narcotics cannot be convicted of the crime of criminal sale of a controlled substance.
A New York Criminal Lawyer said that an undercover police officer befriended the defendant in various bars. The police officer, disguising as a drug user, thereafter mentioned to the defendant that he was interested to buy ecstacy. The defendant indicated that he might be of assistance in doing so and invited the undercover to call him whenever needed. In the course of their meeting in a bar, the police officer advised the defendant of his intention to buy cocaine or heroin. The defendant estimated the cost of the quantity of approximately four ounces of cocaine which was between three and four thousand dollars.
After some days, the defendant and the police officer proceeded in a bar in Manhattan. The defendant entered the premises alone, presumably to meet the man who was the seller. The defendant reported to the police officer that the price of the narcotics would be $4,000. The police officer paid the amount and the defendant re-entered the bar to give the payment to the seller. The two proceeded to a discotheque where the actual delivery of the drugs took place.
After about ten days later, the police officer called the defendant complaining about the quality of the narcotics. The defendant expressed dismay to the police officer for not complaining about it earlier. There was no request or suggestion for adjustment.
The defendant was charged for criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree (Penal Law, sec 220.43) and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree (drug possession).
The Supreme Court upheld the heroin possession but dismiss the charge for criminal sale of a controlled substance.
In a criminal law, the underlying theory of the agency defense in drug crimes is that one who acts as procuring agent for the buyer alone is a principal or conspirator in the purchase rather than the sale of the contraband. A Brooklyn Criminal Lawyer said tt stated that the thrust of the statute is not directed against purchasers, an individual who participates in such a transaction solely to assist a buyer and only on his behalf, incurs no greater criminal liability than does the purchaser he aids and from whom his entire standing in the transaction is derived. The court said that such a role is not to be confused with that of a middleman be he a jobber or any other category of merchant trading in narcotics, or a broker furthering his own interests by serving both seller and buyer who thus essentially acts for himself rather than merely as an extension of the buyer. Accordingly, the agency defense lies in the principle that the agent must have no direct interest in the contraband being sold. His function must be performed without any profit motive. The court opined that where the defense is raised, it is incumbent to focus on the parties’ conduct during the transaction. Salesman-like behavior, commonly connoting an interest that goes beyond representation of the buyer alone, may include touting the quality of the product, bargaining over price and apologizing for the quality of drugs or the manner of their delivery.
Here, at no time did the defendant suggest the purchase or press for it. It was the undercover police officer who pursued their relationship and initiated their conversations about drugs.
There was no iota of proof, by way of admission or otherwise, of any material benefit received by the defendant at any time; the record is barren of evidence of how the proceeds of the purchase were disposed of.
A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said that the Court reiterated that the police officer was not dependent upon defendant’s own statements that the supplier of the drugs was a third party; the observations it was his duty as an officer to make enabled him to witness the delivery itself. And when the police officer later mentioned to defendant that the heroin was of poor quality, the tape that recorded the conversation discloses not the slightest expression of an obligation to explain or undertake to remedy this shortcoming nor did the police officer appear to expect any.
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