When someone is arrested for supplying drugs, it is not uncommon for drug money to be recovered as well. In the case of Mahmood  EWCA Crim 1532, the court dealt with the relevance of cash when determining which sentencing category an offence fell into.
A large quantity of drugs was seized from Mahmood’s premises along with around £30,000 in cash.
The Judge found that the offending fell into Category 2 harm, not Category 3 as had been submitted. The Judge aggregated not only the weight of the drugs found (in total, about half a kilogram), but also what the cash represented in terms of drugs. The Judge took the view that just under £30,000 of cash was equivalent to the value of about half a kilogram of heroin.
Together, drugs of about half a kilogram and cash equivalent to a further half a kilogram amounted to an overall weight equivalent of about 1 kilogram according to the Judge. This meant that the case fell into Category 2 and not Category 3.
On the Applicant’s behalf, it was submitted before the Judge that since the heroin found was 434 grams, the case fell into Category 3.
However, the Judge rejected the submissions advanced on the Applicant’s behalf. He found that the Applicant fell within the centre of Category 2, as if he had been in possession of 1 kilogram of Class A drugs.
Mahmood appealed his sentence.
What did the Court of Appeal decide?
The court held that:
‘…the Judge was entitled to assess the nature of the dealing and to find that the Applicant had a leading role. The evidence in particular of large quantities of drugs and cash, keys and safes at different addresses has more than one of the indicia of a “leading role” being satisfied. The purity of the heroin, which is not explained by the Applicant, indicated that he is likely to have had close links with the original source. It was not cut, and there was evidence that it was highly likely to be of high purity.
For the reasons which he gave, the Judge was also entitled to rely on the cash as evidence of an expectation of substantial financial gain. That was whether the cash was looked at simply as cash in hand from drug dealing or, as the Judge found, that it represented profit from drug dealing.
The fact that there was evidence of a number of addresses, two safes containing substantial quantities of cash at different addresses and keys in one property relating to another property, indicated and added to the ability of the Judge to find that a commercial operation was being undertaken which went beyond simply street dealing.’
However, we have to treat this decision with a degree of caution. Mahmood had pleaded guilty to money laundering so far as the cash was concerned, as it was the proceeds of crime. When the cash can not so clearly be linked to criminal conduct, caution must be exercised before too readily concluding that it is a proper factor in assessing harm for sentencing purposes. In all cases, those defending will need to examine such evidence with the utmost care.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly.
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us help.
[Image credit: “Money on my mind” by jo.sau is licensed under CC BY 2.0) Read More
In some cases, the police need to take either a blood or urine sample from a driver suspected of drink driving, or driving under the influence of drugs. In almost all instances, the police opt for a blood sample.
Part of the procedure is informing the suspect that they can if they wish request part of the sample for independent testing.
Despite this vital protection being available, a large number of people fail to take advantage of this procedure.
Why do people not use this procedure?
Part of the problem is the procedure adopted by the police. The police do not offer a sample to the suspect (save where the suspect is incapable of consenting). They merely state, at the commencement of the procedure, that a suspect can request a sample.
From a practical perspective, this is a deficiency in the procedure. The suspect must first pick up on the option being available, which is not always easy during what can be a confusing and pressured situation. Then they must later make a specific request.
Before the 1988 road traffic legislation, there was a specific requirement for the police to offer a specimen. Consequently, the new law was very much a significant dilution of rights.
In Campbell v Director of Public Prosecutions  EWHC 559 (Admin) the court held:
“It is, therefore, no longer a statutory requirement for the officer to inform the suspect of his right to request his own specimen. [Counsel] submits that I should regard it as by now a settled principle of common law that such information should be provided to those against whom police officers are proceeding under section 7 of the 1988 Act. In my judgment, that is a hopeless proposition.”
This is not, however, the end of the matter as the court went on to state:
“There may well be circumstances, however, when, for reasons similar to those considered by the Court of Appeal in Mitten, a defendant will wish to challenge the admissibility of the analysis because he claims to have been unaware of his right to request the sample and as a result has suffered prejudice. It may be that such an application could be made under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. I do not intend further to anticipate circumstances in which prejudice might be established.”
A vulnerable or distressed suspect may well be able to argue that they were unaware of their rights. The same would apply to a person for whom English is not their first language. That would be the case even though the police communicated the right.
It is the effectiveness of that communication that will be critical in such cases.
The above is just one small aspect of the law concerning the taking of samples. The law relating to drink driving and drug driving is detailed and complex. You should always seek advice before entering a plea at court. A failure to follow the proper procedure may provide a valid defence in this type of case.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email email@example.com. Let us help.Read More