A local man who had been ready to take a plea bargain and accept a year in jail in a felony marijuana case instead saw the case dismissed Tuesday after prosecutors missed a crucial deadline.
A prosecutor Tuesday said a new system has been put in place to bridge a gap that allowed the marijuana case to languish past the deadline.
The charge was formally dismissed Tuesday by Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago, who found no good cause for a delay that has now lasted two years.
The case involves Braden N. Davis, now 28, formerly of Barrett Street. He was charged Sept. 20, 2011, with third-degree criminal possession of marijuana for allegedly having more than 5 pounds of marijuana in plant form.
Davis posted bail and by Oct. 7, 2011, a plea deal was reached, according to prosecutor Ed Moynihan’s filing in the case. Davis was to plead guilty to third-degree criminal possession of marijuana in exchange for a year in jail.
Prosecutors filed the paperwork with the court and waited for a date to be set for the possible plea. But a date was never set, and prosecutors never followed up on it.
However it happened, Moynihan said Tuesday, the delay is charged to prosecutors. Prosecutors have six months from the time of an arrest to announce their readiness for trial. That announcement never came.
Moynihan on Tuesday said prosecutors now keep a list of cases where dates have not been set to make sure they follow up on them. He said the changes were put in place after the Davis case deadline passed, but not because of the Davis case. In fact, prosecutors did not realize his case was still pending until last month. That’s when Davis’ public defender, William Lotze, filed the paperwork to dismiss the charges.
Davis has been out on bail the entire time.
Lauren Mack, the public defender in court Tuesday for Davis, said prosecutors are now barred from refiling the charges.
Outside of court, Davis said he was pleased with the result.
He recalled being ready to take the plea deal and admit to possessing marijuana.
“I’m happy they made a mistake and took too long and it got thrown away,” Davis said afterward. “I never thought that would happen.”
He said he found the marijuana plant growing, pulled it out and put it in a clear plastic bag — the only thing he had with him at the time. While on his way home, he recounted, a passing police officer spotted him and the contents of his bag and he was arrested.
But Davis also said he has stayed out of trouble in the two years since then, and intends to continue to do so. He said he has a 3-year-old child now with a heart condition, and he wants to make sure he’s there for him.
“I didn’t need this felony on my record,” Davis said. “It’s hard enough getting a job as it is.”