Summer hiatus was going great until Marcus Sales had to go do something really, really stupid.
As I'm sure you've heard by now, Sales was involved in a traffic stop on Friday night in Syracuse that resulted in a search of his car and an arrest for, among other things, drugs. Here's an overview of the charges:
- Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance Fifth Degree - Class D Felony, maximum 2 1/2 years in prison
- Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance Seventh Degree - Class A Misdemeanor, maximum 1 year in jail
- Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia Second Degree - Class A Misdemeanor, maximum 1 year in jail
- Unlawful Possession of Marihuana - Violation, fine
- Open Container of Alcohol - Violation of city ordinance, fine
- Consuming Alcohol in a Motor Vehicle - Traffic infraction, fine
- Passing a Red Light - Traffic infraction, fine
But really, we're putting the cart before the horse here. Let's take a look at the fact pattern here. Sales (the driver) and his brother are pulled over for running a red light. Goes without saying, you can't do that. So assuming the police actually witnessed that, the traffic stop is good and valid. The police then report an odor of marihuana (this is the legal NY spelling, for some reason) and this fact, coupled with the fact that Sales couldn't produce his driver's license and he was observed to have an open container of alcohol with him, was enough to create probable cause for the police to search the car. This search then yielded the pot, 180 Lortab pills, scales, and baggies. By finding that quantity of pills (which are classified as a controlled substance), along with the scales and the baggies, the cops were able to infer that the Sales' intent was to package the pills and sell them; thus the CPCS5th charge, with is possession with the intent to sell. CPCS7th is the mere possession of the controlled substance. The amount of pot found must have been of such a small quantity that it fell into the non-criminal "personal use" amount.
What possible defense(s) does Sales have? Certainly as all these charges were the fruit of a traffic stop, he could challenge the stop itself; if the stop is invalid, so were the fruits of the stop, and the evidence would all be thrown out. If that's a dead end, Sales could argue that the police lacked probable cause to search the vehicle. That, too, seems like a dead end based on the reports I'm seeing. But, if the cops lacked probable cause to search the car, then any evidence not in plain view would be thrown out. As for the pills, maybe Sales has a valid prescription for them; a charge of possession with intent to sell could become simply a charge for not keeping a controlled substance in its proper container. The scales... well, that's a little harder to explain. And if all else fails, he can blame it on his brother and have his brother take the fall. You see, they were both charged because they were both in the same vehicle. The law presumes that all occupants of a vehicle exercise "dominion and control" over everything in the vehicle. This presumption, of course, can be overcome. Marcus's brother could say "everything you found was in my backpack that I threw in the back seat, and Marcus had no idea what was in it."
Sales certainly has a lot of options on how his case may play out and what sentence (if any) he could receive. Though jail or prison is certainly a possibility, I don't put those chances too high; I think probation is a more likely scenario. Whether the felony sticks is the real question; he very easily could get a package deal to plead to a couple misdemeanor charges and serve 3-years probation. I suppose that's my way-too-early prediction at this point.
At any rate, still disappointing. Even if the drugs and paraphernalia weren't his, that doesn't excuse the fact that he ran a red light; he was drinking gin out of a plastic cup while driving; and he was in a cloud of pot smoke. There's just no way to look at any of that as good. Let's hope the gin was Tanqueray, and that he at least had tonic or juice mixed in. Who drinks gin straight?
From a football standpoint, there's a tremendous chance that Marcus Sales doesn't ever suit up for the Orange again. Doug Marrone is running a tight ship, and there's no way he condones this type of behavior, drugs or not. While I certainly would agree with and support a decision by Marrone to dismiss Sales from the program, the football fan in me is definitely sad to see him go. Sales was poised to be a focal point of the offense this season, and with him out, we become that much thinner on the points side. As we get closer to camp opening, it's becoming more and more clear that this team really has its work cut out for itself.