No charges were filed after a Norwich traffic stop on New Year’s Day yielded felony levels of methamphetamine and cocaine, according to investigators.
Officers from the Norwich Police Department responded to reports of pedestrians being fired at with a pellet gun by the occupants of a passing vehicle, according to Detective Sgt. Reuben Roach. At least two ounces of methamphetamine and one gram of cocaine, the latter of which was packaged for sale, were recovered from the vehicle during a subsequent traffic stop.
The identities of the suspects have not been released because no charges were filed, Roach said, though he did confirm that all three are Chenango County residents.
Under a series of criminal justice reforms included in New York’s 2020 budget, which took effect Jan. 1, the same day as the Norwich incident, prosecutors are required to share with the defense any discoverable information and materials within 15 days of arraignment, although prosecutors may file for a 30-day extension, according to Chenango County District Attorney Michael Ferrarese.
“Due to the new changes in the law, our speedy trial time begins to run from the date of the filing of the accusatory incident,” Ferrarese said, referring to a clause of the Sixth Amendment that guarantees the right of the accused to a speedy trial.
Conducting a speedy trial is now contingent upon the timely return of the lab results from the New York State Police crime lab in Port Crane, Ferrarese said.
“We don’t want cases dismissed for lack of a speedy trial because we couldn’t get the evidence back within the time limit,” Ferrarese said. “We asked the lab to put a rush on it, but they’re already backed up with other requests because of this new law.”
If the incident had taken place 24 hours earlier, on Dec. 31, Ferrarese said, he still would have recommended those allegedly involved be released without charges filed against them, as the new law applies retroactively.
“Had it been August, I would have said arrest them and put them in jail,” he said, noting that a field test of the recovered drugs yielded positive results.
If the official lab tests produce similar results, the suspects may face indictment by a grand jury, according to Roach.
“The People cannot announce that they are ready for trial without those lab results,” Ferrarese said.
No arrests were made in connection with the alleged pellet gun shooting because “we do not have an identifiable victim,” Ferrarese continued.
He declined to confirm whether the pellet gun was recovered in the vehicle.
The person who called 911 to report the incident declined to identify themselves, Ferrarese said. Any charges that could have been filed would have only amounted to a misdemeanor-level offense, for which police are now required to issue appearance tickets instead of making custodial arrests, under the new law.
“It’s a big deal,” Roach said. “A lot of people don’t really understand that.”
Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.