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06 Aug 2015

Constructive Possession Rules Set Client Free From Prosecution

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A search warrant was executed on 8/13/14 on 1604-A Avenue K in Fort Pierce, Florida. According
to the arrest affidavit, Jamie Baucomb (not his real name) was charged with possession of cocaine,
possession of cocaine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. These charges were
based upon nine crack cocaine rocks which were found “on the seat of the lawnmower near where
Baucomb was standing”.

The State subsequently filed an information formally charging Baucomb with these crimes.
Baucomb was initially represented by the Public Defender. As some nine months passed, he lost
confidence in the Public Defender due to a failure of communication and what Baucomb perceived
as a lack of interest in his defense.

Baucomb retained Attorney Jeffrey H. Garland on 5/8/15. Garland immediately identified the
defense as a matter of construction possession.

Baucomb provided Attorney Garland with numerous photographs of both the inside and outside
areas of his duplex. Of particular interest were those photos showing the location of the lawn tractor
where the nine crack cocaine rocks were allegedly found. If the tractor was still in the same location
as it had been on the day that the search warrant had been executed, then clearly the tractor was in
a common area. Such “common areas” are not under the exclusive care, custody or control of any
individual person or duplex unit. Also, the photographs showed that a common area walkway passed
within several feet of the tractor. Residents could use this walkway to access their nearby duplex
units.

Baucomb also provided Attorney Garland with pieces of mail addressed to 1604 Avenue K, Apt. A,
showing the presence of additional adults living in the unit. In a defense discovery response,
Attorney Garland listed Fort Pierce Utilities Authority bills, showing that the utilities were in the
name of a person other than Baucomb, unopened mail, lease agreement, and St. Lucie County
Property Appraiser records, as well as both inside and outside photographs, as evidence.

Attorney Garland scheduled the lead SIU detective for deposition on 7/10/15. At the deposition, the
lead detective said that his agency would assert a confidential informant privilege against disclosing
the identity of the individual who was supposedly involved with conducting controlled buys at
Baucomb’s duplex. The SIU detective confirmed that the nine crack cocaine rocks were found
inside of a cigarette pack under the engine cover of the tractor which was covered by plastic or
canvas. The SIU detective also confirmed that the tractor was in the same location as indicated in
the defense photographs.

Although mail addressed to Baucomb was found in the duplex, the SIU detective agreed that it
appeared that other adults were living in the duplex at the time the warrant was executed. In fact,
at least three other adults were present when the SIU team made its initial entry to serve the search
warrant. The SIU detective agreed that the letter addressed to Baucomb was found in the master
bedroom, but also agreed that numerous items of women’s clothing were found in the master
bedroom.

Based upon the evidence disclosed during the deposition, Attorney Garland asserted that the State
possessed insufficient evidence upon which to go forward. In short, the nine crack cocaine rocks
were found concealed in a package, inside an engine compartment, under a covering, and in a
common area. There were no fingerprints or witnesses linking Baucomb to the contraband.
Based on all these considerations, the State elected to file a nolle prosequi on 8/3/15. All charges
were dropped! Eighty-seven days elapsed from Attorney Garland’s retention and the client’s
freedom from prosecution.

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