The mother on the other end of the phone was frazzled and upset. Her baby girl had just been sentenced to prison. The mother could not understand what went wrong or why.
The mother retained Jeffrey Garland on 8/2/16 to look into the matter. Attorney Garland filed the motion for post-conviction relief (PCR) three days later.
The PCR motion asserted that the pleas and sentences should be set aside due to ineffective assistance of counsel. The gist of the claim was that the drugs allegedly sold were never tested. The arrest affidavit showed on its face that the supposed dilaudid a/k/a hydromorphone was really clonidine.
The second alleged sale involved supposed heroin. Yet, the substance field tested negative for heroin. The detectives cannot be blamed for this travesty of justice, because they wrote in all capital letters on the arrest affidavit “THE CAPSULES DID NOT FIELD TEST FOR HEROIN AND WERE SUBMITTED INTO CRIME LAB FOR TESTING”.
Apparently, no one read the arrest affidavits. The State filed one count of sale of hydromorphone, and one count of sale of heroin. The assistant public defender plead the client “no contest” to both charges. Although given probation, the Defendant promptly violated and went straight to prison.
To his credit, the prosecutor requested the crime lab to test the items after receiving the PCR motion. When the laboratory tests proved that the pill and the capsule did not contain the supposed drugs, the State agreed to set aside the pleas and sentences.
On 1/24/17, Judge James McCann granted the PCR motion. Garland immediately plead the mother’s daughter to one count of sale of a counterfeit controlled substance with a sentence of time served and no probation. Case closed.
Comment From Fort Pierce Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney Jeffrey Garland
Every person coming before the court is someone’s child, and each is deserving of fair play. In this case, both the prosecutor and public defender failed to see that the items sold were not drugs or not the drugs charged.
Attorney Garland used a PCR motion to return the case to court for a proper disposition. The charges of sale of major opioid drugs were withdrawn. The case was plead out to a much less serious charge – sale of a counterfeit controlled substance – which was amply supported by the evidence.