Mandatory jail time
The office of Margaret W. Wong & Associates represented T.G., a Jamaican citizen, who was arrested toward the end of a 30 day tourist visa and charged with Drug Trafficking in 20 kilograms of marijuana, possession of marijuana (Schedule I controlled substance) and possession of criminal tools to use to traffic in drugs. Because the trafficking count of the indictment allegedly occurred within 1000 feet of a school, the mandatory period of incarceration was 10 years upon conviction.
Three other Jamaicans were also charged; Margaret Wong & Associates did not represent any of the other three. The trial began with one of the 4 Jamaican defendants stating under oath before the trial judge that he was only 17 years old. His sister also testified that he was 17. The trial court ordered him transferred to juvenile court. But the next day at 7 A.M. the prosecution and police executed a search warrant at the sister’s house and found his passport which showed he was in fact an adult (19 years old). The trial court vacated its entry transferring that defendant’s case to juvenile court and that defendant then made a plea bargain with the prosecution to testify against the 3 remaining co-defendants and receive a sentence of 6 years in jail.
Simultaneously with the plea bargain, the 3 remaining defendant’s were in the process of selecting a jury when one of the defendant’s executed a jury waiver and was tried before the trial judge while the other 2 defendants were tried before a jury in the same proceeding with the same trial judge.
At the end of the state’s case, all 3 defendants made a motion for a judgment of acquittal. The trial judge granted the acquittal motion of the defendant who waived a jury and denied the same motion of the other 2 defendants (one being T.G.). The remaining 2 defendants presented no witnesses and did not testify. The state presented 17 witnesses and approximately 50 separate exhibits.
After 2 weeks of trial, the jury deliberated less than 2 hours and found T.G. not guilty of all 3 charges and the other defendant guilty of all 3 charges. T.G.’s alleged association with the defendant who was found guilty and T.G.’s presence in the house where the 20 kilograms of marijuana were found on the day of arrest did not sway the jury that T.G. knowingly participated in drug trafficking.
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