A Traffic Stop by the Police can lead to all kinds of troubles. Most DUI cases begin with a Traffic Stop. So do a lot of Drug Possession cases, as well. This article will focus on those Traffic Stops where drugs are found, and result in a Possession charge. Within my Practice, most of the Possession charges I see involve things like Marijuana or prescription medications like Vicodin or Xanax, and usually begin by being pulled over.
In the preceding article, I pointed out that about 90% of my caseload (consisting of things like DUI or related matters, such as Drug Possession cases and Driver's License Restoration Appeals) begin with a Traffic Stop. In that regard, almost all of my day-to-day work can trace its origin the operation of a motor vehicle, and contact with the Police as a result.
In the real world, far more Criminal cases than one would ever think begin with a Traffic Stop. Just by running a person's License, the Police frequently discover that an unpaid Ticket has led to a Suspended License, or that a person has an outstanding Warrant for some matter or other, and the Driver suddenly finds him or herself in the back of the Police car, while their car gets searched. That's when things often take a turn for the worse.
There are about a million ways this can happen. A person may get stopped for weaving, and as part of a DUI Arrest, marijuana or some other drug is found. The Police can arrive on an accident scene and somehow turn up a few prescription pills from somewhere. However it happens, it happens, and a person winds up facing a Possession charge, or a Paraphernalia charge that all began with a drive or a ride in a vehicle.
Frequently, after the Police search a person, or their car, and then Arrest them for Possession of something like analogues, marijuana or any other controlled substance I am asked, "can they do that?" I have to chuckle at that question, because the answer has already been given: Of course they can do that - they already did it!
The real question, of course, is whether the search is legal. And this is always a critical inquiry in any Traffic Stop case that leads to a possession charge. Before even considering that question, however, the whole reason for the Traffic Stop, or the initial Police contact itself, needs to be questioned. If there is any legal basis to have the Stop ruled improper or unlawful, then any and everything that takes place thereafter will never see the light of day in a Court of Law, including anything that the Police find. The Police need a reason to pull someone over, and while there a million reasons that they can "give," sometimes, the very circumstances themselves tend to contradict the reason "given" for the Stop.
In assessing the legality of the Stop, it is important to find out if there is any Police in-car video. The Police can say anything they want about why they pulled someone over, but, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Dash-cam video can give clarity to unresolved questions between competing versions of the same story. It can be a wonderful tool to challenge a Traffic Stop, or what takes place during the Stop, especially when the Police are more obviously acting more on a "hunch" than anything else.