A pair of handcuffs and pills on the table.

Felony Drug Possession With Intent to Distribute, Drug Felony Level 2 July 11, 2022

Felony Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute, Drug Felony level 2 (DF2) – Denver District Court – Dismissed on the Morning of the Motions Hearing – Trust – Lovel Tokic

I knew my client would go to prison if we lost. Knowing that someone you care about might go to the penitentiary is stressful. I spent time with my client. He told me about what happened to him as a child. He went to prison at a young age. Prison did not help him recover from trauma; it never does. There was no place to be vulnerable and learn how to trust. Under the best circumstances, his trauma would be difficult to overcome. His circumstances were some of the worst. It is a wonder that he would be involved in substance abuse, hiding and numbing.

My name is Lovel Tokic, and I want to tell you about a recent drug felony case, possession with intent to distribute Schedule II drugs, to wit: methamphetamine 25 grams or more, arrest by Denver Police Department, prosecuted in District Court by the Denver District Attorney’s office.

Challenges lay ahead. I knew that I was up to the job. While a serious felony with mandatory prison sentence, I knew I could handle it. Many similar cases were in my nearly 7 years at the Colorado Public Defenders’ Boulder office. Each one built my knowledge and experience. I started the case the same way I did so many others. Then, I learned a new way to work the case. I had complained for many years about not having enough time, resources, or help to do cases the best way. Now, I had these. I realized it was time to put up or shut up.

This was my first serious case working for The Savela Law Firm, PC. Working collaboratively with Jason Savela was very different from my PD training. We took the time necessary. We explored and brainstormed. We argued and got excited, making the case better and better. Public Defenders often do not have the time or energy, some have been beaten down, some do not care, some are too young. We love PDs and will always help where we can – however, there are often limitations that cannot be overcome. Jason and I regularly discussed the case, not just over lunch, but really working it – blocking out time and using it. His thoughts helped me, I helped him. The result was far better than trying to work the case alone. I am beginning to see how important story is, things I hope to learn more about at the Trial Lawyers’ College when I go in October.

Our client was a passenger in a car stopped because the police officer believed the driver did not have a valid drivers’ license. Everyone was removed from the car and searched. The police found a significant quantity of methamphetamine and charged our guy. If you only read the police report, the whole thing appears fair and legal. I suspect officers would testify that way as well. We now live in a world with police body cameras – these showed the truth of an illegal search and seizure. The main argument police would use to detain and search the occupants is the possibility that these citizens were armed and dangerous. They were not, and there was nothing to support it that idea.

Client, and his friends, did the right thing. They were polite, kept their hands where they could be seen, not quick movements, no anger or aggressive behavior. There was nothing in plain view, the driver was sober, with all equipment working and traffic laws obeyed. They did not make legal arguments on the street with the cops, they knew their lawyers would do that better later, with a judge in a courtroom. At the same time, they asserted their rights. I do not want to answer questions without a lawyer. I do not consent to a search. And then saying nothing. Politely. Simple, polite, calm, cooperative and clear.

Officers are allowed to pat a person down for weapons if there is a reasonable belief a person is armed and dangerous. The Courts tend to defer to the officer’s judgment, however, not always. In this case, the stop was questionable, there was no good reason to remove the occupants other than the unlicensed driver, they illegally patted my client down 3 times, and illegally emptied his pockets. Had they followed the law, they never would have seen the drugs. Preparation, spending time with the file, considering and re-considering, researching the law, drafting, and redrafting the motion until it was perfect. This allows you to be ready, and for the DA to know you are ready and will win. We were telling the truth, with the Constitution and case-law on our side.

So, when the prosecutor offered a misdemeanor plea stipulate probation/no jail (down from felony/prison and later felony/probation offers) one business day before our motions hearing, I considered that she was bluffing. Was her officer available this second motions hearing setting? Did she have a way to defend the police actions? Was she trying to play me and my guy? I was confident in our issues, facts, and preparation. I was confident in myself, and the trust that I had built with my client.

My client had to make a difficult decision. Would he take the sure thing by pleading out to a misdemeanor with probation? Or would he trust me and roll the dice and push the envelope? It is his choice, his consequences. I wanted to say nope and show the Judge what happens far too often. He trusted me. After making sure he knew what he needed to know, and allowing him time to discuss with his family, we rejected their offer. I think we will tell our story, show the truth, take our chances with the Judge. We called their bluff. The prosecutor dismissed the entire case as soon as we told them that we were dismissing the case. She was trying to play us.

I recognize that being accused of a crime is the low point of someone’s life. You are facing the possibility of a criminal conviction, jail time, and above all, you are facing the possibility of losing your dignity. Saying it is easy, showing the client we understand takes more time. It is not only valuable, it is necessary to get the best results.

On the flip side, representing someone accused of a crime isn’t easy. The District Attorney has nearly unlimited resources with which to prosecute people. Hell, the police work for them. If they need a police officer to do something for them, they can get it done within the blink of an eye. They have investigators that work in their office that do what the police cannot. Indeed, the weight of the state is great.

No one should go up against the state on their own. We can help. We will build trust together, so you know I got you, and I know we are one. It’s not BS confidence, it is solid and true. We will listen to you. We will have a united front. We will trust each other. Had my client not trusted me, he would have accepted the plea to misdemeanor probation, or worse. He would have been paying thousands of dollars in probation, treatment, and testing costs, plus the drug surcharge. He would have had to report to a probation officer. He would have the prospect of jail time hanging over his head if he violated probation. Instead, the judge granted the prosecutors motion to dismiss. In the hallway, we hugged, with his mom and dad elated. Instead of walking to the probation office with him, we went out for breakfast. These moments are just one reason why this is the best job in the world.

Trust us to get the job done right. You won’t regret it. If you are accused of a drug felony or other crime, call us.