Police undercover operations involving drugs and drug sales are strictly monitored. It is important that the rules are followed so that everyone’s rights are preserved. A New York Family Lawyer said that means that if the police officers do not follow the guidelines that are established in the law, the entire case can be overthrown in court. There may even be grounds for a civil lawsuit if the police violate a person’s rights. In order to be assigned an undercover task, a police officer is required to attend a specialized school that teaches them what they need to know about the laws particular to undercover stings.
In 1970, many of the undercover laws that are used to protect people today did not exist. Much of the case law from that period was used to create the laws that are in use today. On May 5, 1970, at 7:45 in the evening, a trained undercover officer and his informant arranged to go to 201 Westland, in Hartford. The person who lived at that address was a known drug dealer who called himself, “Dickie Boy.” The pair went to the apartment with two support officers. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the support officers watched from outside the building as the two went inside. When they got to the apartment in question, they knocked on the door. A black man who was about five foot eleven inches tall answered the door. He had a dark complexion with jet-black hair cut into a short natural afro. He had high cheekbones and a heavy built frame. The undercover team purchased heroin from the dealer and left. When the officer and informant returned to the backup officers, the officer described the drug dealer; one of the backup officers thought that he knew who the dealer was.
When they returned to the police station, the backup officer pulled a photograph of the dealer that he thought matched the description of the man who had sold the undercover team the heroin that evening. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said that two days later, when the other officer came in to the office, he saw the picture of the dealer that the backup officer had left for him.
He noticed that the person in the picture was the dealer who had sold him the heroin. The powder in the purchased baggies that the dealer had identified as heroin was sent to the crime lab for testing. On July 16, 1970, the toxicology report came back positive for heroin. On July 27, 1970, the dealer was arrested at the apartment where the drug purchase had taken place on May 5th.
During the trial of the case, the photograph was entered into evidence. There were no objections to the fact that the photograph had been viewed alone and not in a photo array of several pictures. A Queens Family Lawyer said the normal process would be for a victim to view a photo array of about six pictures of men closely resembling the description provided by the witness. The witness would then need to choose the suspect from the photo array to make a proper identification. In this case, another officer left the photograph that was viewed two days after the officer had seen the man, on his desk. The defendant was arrested and sentenced to three to nine years in prison.
When the defendant filed an appeal, it was based on the fact that the identification was based on this photograph. He contends that when the officer left the picture of the defendant, that it was suggestive of guilt. He believes that the identification was tainted by this presumption of guilt and that he was not even at that apartment on the day of the drug purchase.
The Supreme Court did not agree that the defendant had not been provided with due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its Queens Criminal Lawyers, have convenient offices throughout New York and Metropolitan area. Stephen Bilkis is on your side. Our Queens drug lawyers can provide you with advice to guide you during your hearing.