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People v. Berrios

    Brief Fact Summary. This is a consolidation of appeals, in each of which the defendants were charged with possession of heroin and the arresting officers testified that glassine envelopes containing the drugs were dropped just as they approached the defendants.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where a defendant challenges the admissibility of physical evidence or makes a motion to suppress, he bears the burden of proving the evidence should not be used against him.

    Facts. This appeal arose when a great deal of “dropsy” cases were questioned as to arresting officer’ honesty. This court upheld the rule that the defendant must prove that the any evidence should not be used against him, regardless of the arresting officer’s testimony. The court further went on to say that it would be a “dismal reflection on society” if arresting officers were made to prove the truth of their statements regarding evidence.

    Issue. Whether the burden of proof lies on the arresting officer or upon the defendant to prove the truth of evidence.

    Held. It is incumbent upon the defendant to prove that evidence should not be used against him, and it would be a hardship to require all officers to live up to this level of proof.

    Dissent. The dissent argues that the burden of proving lawfulness of a search and seizure should be cast on the People in all narcotics and gambling cases when search or seizure has been effectuated without a warrant.

    Discussion. The important thing to understand in this case is that the burden of proving whether evidence should not be used lies upon the defendant because it would cause undue hardship and thwart the investigation process if all officers were made to bear the burden.


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