K2, Spice, and other types of synthetic marijuana have been illegal for some time now, due in large part to the overdoses and deaths attributed to them. In May 2012, two passengers were killed in a car accident in Montgomery County when the driver, high on K2, crashed his car. After an investigation, Rafie Ali, owner of Achi convenience store in Pottstown, and his employee Mohammed K. Himed were arrested for selling the drug from the store. Ali was found guilty of two counts of operating a corrupt organization, four counts of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, five counts of possession with the intent to deliver drug paraphernalia and two counts of conspiracy. The prosecution had intended to seek 10 to 15 years in mandatory minimum sentences for factors such as selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school and having a firearm in close proximity to the drugs, but the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alleyne complicates that.
In Alleyne, which was decided just four days after Ali’s trial, the Court ruled that factors that trigger mandatory minimum sentences must be submitted to a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Prior to that ruling, and as was law when Ali had his trial, the judge was allowed to rule on such factors at sentencing. This presents a problem for the prosecution, which is pushing for the mandatory sentences, but did not submit the issues to the jury. To resolve the matter, Judge Steven T. O’Neill will schedule a hearing wherein the prosecution and defense attorneys would argue the issue. Prosecutors want the aggravating factors to be presented to a new jury, but the defense is arguing that such a mini-trial would be essentially double jeopardy, and instead posit that the mandatory minimums should not apply. The hearing will take place within the next 30 to 45 days.
Do you think that what the prosecution is seeking is double jeopardy? Comment and let us know.