COURT WATCH: Defense Argues Too Little Circumstantial Evidence to Charge Woman with Drugs for Sale – Judge Disagrees

By Paloma Sifuentes

WOODLAND, CA – A defense attorney argued here Thursday in Yolo County Superior Court during the preliminary hearing there was not enough evidence to show his client was intending to sell illegal drugs.

The judge disagreed and set the case for trial.

The only witness presented for the prosecution was Woodland Police Officer Zachary Ryno, the arresting officer Feb. 3, who said he had received information from a detective who had been surveilling the accused. Officer Ryno said he also had arrested the accused two months prior to this incident.

Officer Ryno stated the accused had her hand in her black purse on the center console of a car, and he saw small clear bags poking out of an exterior pocket. This was significant, he added, because “clear plastic bags will sometimes lead to showing the possession or being used to package controlled substances.”

Officer Ryno said he conducted a search, noting the accused had a plastic grocery bag and Officer Ryno checked the car that had pieces of foil that had a burnt dark residue on them, the type that comes from using opioids.

After searching the accused, the officer said he searched the exterior pockets of her purse that had clear plastic baggies, and he located more new unused sandwich baggies with another bindle plastic bag of methamphetamine.

In the main pocket of the purse the officer testified he found another bindle bag of methamphetamine and another bindle bag filled with marijuana. He said he weighed the individual bags of methamphetamine and one was 13 grams and the other was 14 grams, in total 28 grams without the packaging.

The officer said the bags tested positive for methamphetamine.

The officer opined on the stand that it was possession for the purpose of sales because of “the two large quantities individually packaged, methamphetamine in bulk, and being in a known high drug area.”

The defense attorney then asked the officer how he reached his opinion if he didn’t know the exact number of empty plastic bags, to which Officer Ryno stated “there was at least more than one, and at least one set of clear plastic bags that can make three decent sized bindle bags.”

The defense attorney asked if Ryno had seen the accused give anyone methamphetamine, to which he replied “no.”

The defense asked the judge for a no holding order because” there was no observation of a transaction or a scale or indication of a recording of sales or even cash money on her person.”

The defense argued she didn’t have any money and that she might have bought these drugs for herself, adding intent to sell has to be at the time of this possession.

He also stated there is little circumstantial evidence of that other than weight and one to three plastic bags that can be broken down into smaller bindles.

The prosecution then argued that “there is enough evidence to hold Lomeli to answer, the standard before the court is probable cause, and while it’s possible that she just bought the methamphetamine found on her, part of selling drugs is first buying drugs, so just not having a scale or money on her, doesn’t think make it indicative that she didn’t have intent to sell at that exact point in time, and that determination would be more appropriate for trier of fact, and there is enough to meet the probable cause standard.”

He asked the court to issue an order charging the accused.

Samuel T. McAdam ruled the prosecution had reached the probable cause standard in this preliminary stage, and ordered the accused held on the charge.

A bail posted for the accused was kept the same and she will continue on that bail bond until arraignment April 21.

About The Author

Paloma Sifuentes is a Senior at California State University, Long Beach majoring in Criminal Justice. She plans on attending law school after she graduates with her bachelors degree in the spring of 2023. She is very passionate about Criminal Law and intends on working as an associates attorney in a law firm after law school.

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