In order to determine which courts the three defendants should be taken to, it would be to clearly outline which charges could potentially be filed against each of the three suspects:
Although sufficient evidence does exist against Jones to obtain a conviction at the U.S District Court, the best court to file charges would be the Sedgwick District Court Court, as it would offer the best opportunity to plead on Jones’ behalf considering his cooperation with law enforcement. Part of the reasons for not filing the case at the Wichita Municipal Court, would be because the court mostly deals with misdemeanors, while the U.S District court would certainly offer a mush more stern sentence for Jones’ misbehavior. Considering that this is Jones’ third possession offence, the court under the Kansas Statutes is likely to consider Jone’s offence as a level 1 felony, likely to attract a penalty of between 10 years to life. Presenting the fact that Jones has been instrumental in the investigations that have led to the arrests of Smith and Thompson is likely to help us obtain the minimum sentence of 10 years. The Wichita Municipal Court is not mandated to deal with drug offences, especially drug offences concerning controlled substances such as cocaine, which fall under felonies, let alone the fact that Jones’ recent arrest marks his third such offence. The only viable courts available are therefore, the U.S District court, and the Sedgwick District Court. Considering that Jones is unlikely to plead guilty at a federal court, the best court within which to file the charges, as already mentioned, would be the Sedgwick District Court, where Jones is likely to plead guilty, leading to a very short and less demanding hearing. If the charges are changed to paraphernalia, filing the case at the Wichita Municipal Court will be possible, although information on his two previous offences would have to be suppressed. This is possibly the best option considering the massive help Jones has provided, as this would only result in his being charged with a misdemeanor.
For Smith, the only question is where to file the case, as sufficient evidence to file charges for possession and distribution of cocaine has already been collected. This is more so when one considers that Smith has already sold to two undercover agents. However, considering that this is the first time such charges are being preferred against Smith, the best court within which to file the charges would be the Sedgwick County District Court, as regardless of this being his first such offence, dealing in cocaine is considered a level 4 felony, and is likely to attract a penalty of between 5 to 15 years imprisonment and or a fine of three hundred thousand dollars (Kansas Statutes 2009). This would be the best court within which to file charges due to the fact that Smith has refused to cooperate with the agents or Jones any further, making collection of any further evidence quite difficult. The threshold of proof within the county district court has already been met, with the testimonies of the agents sufficient to obtain a conviction at this level, as opposed to federal court, where significantly more evidence would be required.
The case against Thompson would best be filed in the U.S District court, as he is guilty not just of possession, but also of distribution, and intent to distribute. Proving the fact that Thompson may have engaged in the distribution of Cocaine may be a bit more difficult at the U.S district court, more so when one considers that he has not sold directly to the undercover agents, and Jones has two previous convictions in his record, which seriously dent his credibility as a witness. However, with testimony from the undercover agents indicating that Thompson did sell to Jones on at least five occasions, corroborated by Jones own confession as a friendly witness, proving distribution may be a bit easier. When it comes to proving both possession, and the intention to distribute, it may be necessary to seek a search warrant in order to obtain the major quantities of cocaine, as well as large cash sums that Thompson has in his safe. Perhaps one of the main advantages of using Jones as a witness, would be the fact that 10 years have elapsed since his convictions, which means that evidence from these previous two convictions are not admissible (Neubauer & Fradella, 2010).
The penalties for unlawful distribution or possession with the intention to distribute according to federal laws, is a fine of at least 1 to 5 million dollars, and or a prison sentence of 20 years if the cocaine weighs less than 28 grams, between 5 to 25 million and a sentence of between 5 to 40 years, if the quantity falls between 29 and 279 grams. If the quantity is more than 280 grams the sentence falls between 10 years to life, while the fine is usually 10 to 50 million dollars (Yeh, 2012).
Chances of obtaining a the higher penalties for drug possession in federal court are very good, as the testimonies of the agents, Jones, and the additional evidence to be collected from Thompson’s house, offer a very good basis upon which to obtain a conviction (Federal Rules of Evidence).
Neubauer, D., & Fradella, H. (2010). America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System. Wadsworth Publishing.
NOLO (n.d). Drug Laws and Drug Crimes. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/drug-laws-drug-crimes-32252.html
Yeh, B. (2012). Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Terms of Imprisonment for Violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Related Laws. Congressional Research Service
Kansas Statutes (2009). Retrieved from http://kansasstatutes.lesterama.org/Chapter_21/Article_45/21-4501.html
The Wichita Code of Ordinances. Retrieved from http://search.municode.com/html/14166/MCC_TOC.html