People v. Fernandez, 2016 IL App (1st) 141667 (December). Episode 283 (Duration 3:57)
17 years of for possession with intent to deliver reversed in this search warrant case.
Fernandez’s convictions stemmed from the recovery of heroin, weapons, and ammunition from a single family home and detached garage from a Chicago home.
Police executed a search warrant.
Over 900 grams of heroin and some guns were pulled from his detached garage.
In a bedroom, officers found a passport and insurance cards belonging to Fernandez, as well as framed pictures of Fernandez with the woman in the car.
Neither the passport nor the insurance card listed an address for Fernandez. The closet held both men’s and women’s clothes.
There were additional framed pictures of Fernandez with the same woman hanging on the wall in the living room area. Police recovered two .357-caliber handguns under the hood of the van along with a brick of suspect heroin and large bags containing smaller knotted bags of heroin.
They also recovered ammunition for the .357-caliber handguns and a box of ammunition for a .38-caliber handgun.
Other officers recovered an additional .32-caliber gun under the hood of the van. A gun was also in the bedroom.
Constructive possession exists where there is no personal dominion over the contraband, but the defendant has control over the area where the contraband was found.
The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had knowledge of the presence of the contraband and exercised “immediate and exclusive” control over the area where the contraband was discovered.
He Live There?
The problem here is that there was insufficient evidence of habitation.
Evidence of residency or habitation often takes the form of rent receipts, utility bills, or mail, none of which link Fernandez to the address that was searched.
To the contrary, the evidence at trial revealed that Fernandez received mail at a completely different place.
Defendant had keys to the place, his passport and insurance card were found on a dresser, and his picture with a women hung on the wall. Nonetheless, this did not demonstrate that he had control of the premises.
Plus, the presence of an unidentified man on the premises at the time the police executed the search warrant weighs against a finding that Fernandez maintained control over the premises.