Police made a traffic stop on Interstate 84 in mid-August and found considerably more than they bargained for. According to a recent report by Boston.com, the driver, Jeannie Ortiz, age 41, and passenger Domingo Ortiz, age 51, were found in possession of 85 grams of cocaine. The couple was charged with trafficking cocaine and conspiracy to violate state drug laws.
Traffic Stops and Vehicle Searches are a Common Way For Police to Find Drugs
Traffic stops are made all the time by police in Massachusetts. Many times people allow police to conduct a search of their vehicle because they do not know their rights. You might be scared and may not know what to do. It is important for you to know that you do not have to consent to law enforcement searching your vehicle. Similarly, if you are pulled over for a non-moving traffic violation, such as a loud muffler or a busted tail light, law enforcement should only issue you the citation, and should not conduct a search of your vehicle unless there is some other reason to justify a search.
It is only when the officer that stopped you has a reasonable suspicion to believe that you are transporting something illegal or that you have committed a drug crime that the officer can perform a search of your vehicle. So, for instance, if you are pulled over and the officer that stops you notices that you are clearly intoxicated by drugs, that could be sufficient reason to search your vehicle. Similarly, if the backseat of your vehicle is loaded with drug paraphernalia, such as vials, razor blades, scales, baggies, and cash, it could be enough to give the officer a reasonable suspicion about whether you are transporting drugs. Once a police officer has probable cause to suspect drug activity in the vehicle, the officer can conduct a warrantless search of the vehicle.
Arrested for Drugs in Your Vehicle? Fight Your Charges!
If law enforcement finds drugs in your vehicle, you are most likely going to be arrested on drug charges. Drug charges are serious, and you must fight those charges by raising whatever defenses are appropriate in your given situation. Working closely with an experienced drug offenses lawyer, you can identify what defenses are available to you. A few commonly raised defenses to drug charges when drugs were found in the vehicle include:
- Lack of possession of the drugs (just because drugs were found in your care does not necessarily prove you were in possession of them knowingly)
- The basis for the stop was improper
- The exit order from the officer was improper
- The police officer’s search of the vehicle was illegal
- The police officer’s seizure of the drugs was illegal
- Inability of the prosecution to demonstrate appropriate chain of custody for the drug evidence
Contacting a Massachusetts Drug Offenses Criminal Defense Attorney