Wednesday, September 13, 2006

AD4: more than mere residence required to prove defendant constructively possessed drugs found in roommate's dresser

People v Gautreauz-Perez, 2006 NY Slip Op 05519 [available here]

Defendant was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree after police found cocaine "in a closed dresser drawer" in her roommate's bedroom. She was convicted after trial; the Fourth Department reversed and held her conviction was not supported by legally sufficient evidence. From the decision:

The mere fact that defendant lived at the residence where the drugs were found is, without more, legally insufficient to establish that she exercised the requisite dominion and control over the drugs "by a sufficient level of control over the area in which the [drugs were] found". Indeed, the evidence at trial established that only male clothing and male shoes were found in the southeast bedroom and that a male roommate of defendant was involved in a drug deal previously observed by the officers while on surveillance.

(People v Gautreauz-Perez, 2006 NY Slip Op 05519.)

A reassuring case for anyone who is unwittingly sharing his or her apartment with a drug dealer.