Even a routine traffic stop can lead to serious misdemeanor and felony drug charges. Many drug arrests occur when an officer pulls a vehicle over for a standard traffic violation and ends up finding drugs in the vehicle.
A 23-year-old New York City woman is facing two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance after police stopped her vehicle for multiple traffic and vehicle violations. As officers questioned the driver and passengers, they allegedly spotted drugs and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle. During the investigation, the officers found that another person in the vehicle reportedly had almost 20 grams of crack cocaine in their possession.
The woman has been arraigned and is currently in jail, as she could not provide $5,000 cash or $10,000 insurance bond. Another man faces a non-criminal charge for unlawfully possessing marijuana. The driver of the vehicle has been issued a number of traffic tickets.
Under the Fourth Amendment, people are protected from police searches without probable cause in any area where they have a legitimate expectation of privacy. This means that police will have to get a warrant or have probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime before they can search you or your property. There is an automobile exception which states that officers do not need a warrant to search your car. However, they may only search the areas of the vehicle they have probable cause to search. For example, an officer cannot stop you for speeding and randomly decide to search your trunk.
In some drug cases, cops illegally seize evidence and pursue charges based on this evidence. However, defendants may be able to get this evidence thrown out and have the charges dropped with a motion to suppress the evidence.
Source: The Post Star, "New York City woman faces drug charges after traffic stop," Aug. 28, 2017