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Miami-dade police officers face federal indictment

Posted on February 12, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Three Miami-Dade police officers expect to be indicted in federal court on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. The three men previously testified as witnesses in a federal court trial. They are being charged with making false statements during the prosecution of Pedro L. Marte. The officers stopped Marte based on an anonymous tip that he had a firearm under the hood of his 1992 Mercury Marquis. The officers testified that the defendant ran a stop sign which gave them the authority to conduct the traffic stop. During a search of the car, a revolver was found under the hood. The government charged Marte with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. One of the defense attorneys involved in the case was quoted as saying, Bottom line: I think they're dead wrong in indicting them under these circumstances," referring to the officers.

It appears Marte may have been targeted by these officers. He had two prior cocaine trafficking convictions in the State of Florida. At trial, Marte's defense filed and argued a motion to suppress. The crux of the argument was based on the fact that officers conducted a "warrantless search" and never read Marte his Miranda rights. After listening to the testimony of the officers, the U.S. district judge granted the motions and dismissed the indictment. The judge then sent the matter to federal prosecutors to investigate the testimony of the officers involved in the arrest. The United States Constitution provides that all searches must be conducted pursuant to a warrant. However, over time exceptions to the warrant requirement have been created pursuant mostly to case law. Exceptions to the warrant requirement include: consent to search, search incident to arrest, the automobile exception and the exigent circumstances to name a few.

Although the indictment remains sealed and not available to the general public, it is believed that the focus of the indictment is based on the testimony provided by the officers at the hearing. The charges will most likely stem from the fact that the officers failed to testify regarding the information obtained by the confidential informant. Despite the fact that the federal court judge dismissed the charges against Marte, he was arrested one week again for federal gun charges. One of the other defense lawyers involved in the case claimed that the case is an outrage because Marte had the gun and also admitted to having the gun and feds let him go anyway.

Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a serious charge both in state and federal court. In state court, that charge carries a mandatory prison term of three years. In federal court, the same charge also carries mandatory prison time. Although usually charged in state court, federal prosecutors filed these charges because the cases are fairly easy to prove and they can boost their conviction numbers. If you or anyone you know is charged with a state or federal weapons charge it is essential to retain counsel with experience in the defending these types of cases. It is important to seek a trial active attorney as the majority of these cases go to trial because of the mandatory sentences.

Three Miami-Dade Cops Face Perjury Indictments, The Miami Herald, February 12, 2010.
Categories: Federal Crimes