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Valentine v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

March 12, 2019

LAMONT VALENTINE, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: January 9, 2019

          Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID. N1603014628

          Before VALIHURA, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.

          ORDER

          GARY F. TRAYNOR JUSTICE

         This 12th day of March 2019, after careful consideration of the parties' briefs and the record on appeal, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) Lamont Valentine was pulled over on March 19, 2016 by Delaware State Police Trooper Chase Lawson for speeding. Upon approaching Valentine's Dodge Challenger, Lawson smelled marijuana, although Lawson could not tell if it was burnt or raw marijuana.

         (2) Lawson asked Valentine for his license and registration, returned to his patrol car, and called for backup. Once backup arrived, Lawson asked Valentine to exit his car while police searched it.

         (3) As a result of their search, police found a 9mm pistol and 34 rounds of ammunition in Valentine's car. Police did not find any marijuana.

         (4) Valentine moved to suppress evidence of the pistol and ammunition, arguing that the smell of marijuana did not provide probable cause to search his car. The Superior Court denied that motion.

         (5) After a bench trial, the Superior Court found Valentine guilty of one count of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.[1] He was sentenced to a ten-year minimum mandatory sentence as a repeat offender. Valentine timely appealed to this court.

         (6) Valentine first appeals his sentencing as a repeat offender. Valentine has two prior felony convictions, both from Pennsylvania.

         (7) Valentine's first conviction occurred after a jury found him guilty of violating 35 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 780-113(30), which prohibits "the manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance . . . or knowingly creating, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver, a counterfeit controlled substance."

         (8) Valentine's second conviction occurred after he pleaded guilty to violating 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6106(a)(1), which prohibits "carr[ying] a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person . . . without a valid and lawfully issued license."

         (9) The State sought to have Valentine sentenced pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 1448(e)(1)(c), which provides for enhanced sentencing for those who have been previously convicted of two or more violent felonies, a term defined in 11 Del. C. ยง 4201(c). Defendants with out-of-state convictions that are "the same as or ...


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