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Airport Baggage Handler's Drug Conviction Affirmed

By FindLaw Staff on May 26, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In US v. Rawlins, No. 08-2948, the Third Circuit faced a challenge to a conviction of a baggage handler for various drug crimes, claiming that the superseding indictment was invalid because count one failed to allege proper timeframe for the alleged conspiracy.

As stated in the decision: "Although an indictment cannot be completely open-ended, an indictment that specifies an end date is sufficient to apprise defendants of the charges and enable them to prepare a defense." The court went on to explain: "..Because the timeframe of the charged conspiracy was open-ended only as to the beginning date.  Count one explicitly identified September 2004 as the end of the conspiracy.  This was sufficient to inform Rawlins of the charges he would face at trial, allowing him to adequately prepare for trial."

In affirming the conviction, the court held that the indictment was sufficient to apprise defendant of the charges against him, enable him to prepare a defense, and to avoid double jeopardy on the same charge.  The court rejected defendant's sufficiency of the evidence challenge to his conviction and held that the district court's decision to admit the packages of cocaine into evidence was not an abuse of discretion.   

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