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People v. Reyes

People v. Reyes

Court Discusses the Credibility of Detective testimony versus the Defendant

The defendant was charged with sale, possession with intent to sell and possession of heroin on two separate occasions. The charges stemmed from the allegation that the defendant sold heroin in a glassine envelope on two separate occasions to an undercover detective. The detective also used the assistance of a patrolman to indicate that the sale had been completed. The defendant, however, stated that he was leaving work to pick up his son at the time the sale was alleged to have transpired on the first occasion but provided no further evidence to support his alibi. The defendant’s nephew also testified that he was him an hour prior to the defendant’s arrest on the second occasion it was alleged that he sold heroin to the undercover defective. The defendant’s nephew further stated that at no time the defendant possessed any illegal substance. The defendant was convicted by a non-jury trial of one count of criminal selling a dangerous drug in the third degree and sentenced to an intermediate term of imprisonment not exceeding four year. The trial court however, dismissed the remaining charges because the prosecution failed to prove their case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant appealed the conviction on the ground that he should not have been convicted since the other charges were dismissed.

The majority in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction as because they credited the testimony of the detective in relation to the first sale. There was credible evidence by the detective and the patrolman who witnessed the transaction. The patrolman met with the detective after the sale where he collected the glassine envelopes which were sealed and marked. On the contrary, the defendant provided an uncorroborated alibi about his whereabouts when the transaction was alleged to have occurred. The charges on the second occasion on the second occasion were unconnected to first charges. Therefore, where trial judge dismissed the second string on charges, he was not required to dismiss the charge of criminally selling a dangerous drug in the third degree. There was no inherent inconsistency, nor was consistency necessarily required, though the same prosecution witness testified as to all alleged offenses. Criminal Robbery was not involved and a weapon was not found.

The minority of the of the Appellate Division was of the belief that the refusal of the trial judge to credit the patrolman’s testimony on the second occasion when it was alleged that the defendant sold the detective drugs should also result in his testimony being discredited on the first occasion. There was justification to dismiss the charges on the second occasion such as the testimony of the defendant’s nephew and no narcotics not money found on the defendant in connection to the sale of the heroin to the undercover detective. Therefore, the minority believed that the conviction should be reversed or in the alternative reduction in sentence as it was harsh and excessive.

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