Uber Rider Faces Felony Charges After Sitting Near Firearms in Vehicle

By Gina Kim

MODESTO, CA – Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves found sufficient evidence to suggest the accused, Dustin Crawford, could be guilty of charges for possession of firearms and ammunition in a preliminary hearing here Thursday.

On Oct. 22, 2021 Officers Michael Victorinl and Leland Lawson conducted a search of a vehicle holding hidden firearms, the prosecution alleged.

An uber rider seated on the passenger seat, officers testified, Crawford had the first set of gun and ammunition right between his feet. There, Officer Lawson said he located a black tool bag left open with a loaded Ruger LC9 semi-automatic and empty magazine roll inside.

As a convicted felon, Crawford would face felony charges for constructive possession, which only requires illicit objects be within the defendant’s “ready reach.”

During cross examination, Officer Victorinyl stated a second firearm was found hidden between the passenger seat and center counsel in a small black handbag. This bag held a Smith and Wesson M&P shield, another semiautomatic pistol, as well as a magazine loaded with live ammunition.

Officer Victorinyl suggested both firearms were within reach of the driver and front passenger.

“I think it’s obvious at this point it was a constructive possession theory,” stated Deputy District Attorney Patrick Hogan, who indicated the open tool bag suggested knowledge of the firearm’s existence.

Assistant Public Defender Reed Wagner denied there was enough evidence to confirm his client knew of the firearm, because it was recovered beneath the seat where it wouldn’t have been visible. Moreover, the magazine in the front seat was empty, rendering it “irrelevant” to knowledge of possession.

Wagner added the court could not confirm the relationship between Crawford and his uber driver codefendant, giving insufficient basis for constructive possession. “All we know is Crawford is an uber rider of the vehicle,” Wagner concluded.

However, Judge Reeves found sufficient evidence for all charges for the purposes of preliminary hearing because of Crawford’s “proximity” to the firearms and ammunition, particularly given the tool bag’s opened state.

The court will reconvene for an arraignment hearing and trial setting April 7.

About The Author

Gina is a sophomore at UCSB majoring in History of Public Policy and Law. She's an aspiring professional writing minor interested in studying law.

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