Traffic stops are an abundant source of drug arrests in Arkansas and nationwide. Some criminal defense experts argue that not all of these stops are really for random traffic violations. They argue that, occasionally, the authorities may stop a driver based on drug suspicions and justify the stop by calling it a traffic violation. Criminal defense counsel will look carefully at the circumstances surrounding purported traffic stops to make sure that there was a legitimate reason to make the initial stop and to file ensuing charges for drug crimes.
On March 17, the Arkansas Highway Police pulled over a 35-year-old motorist in mid-afternoon at a currently undisclosed location. The police and press reports are presently sparse on details regarding the stop and the procedures followed by the police. Without describing the details, the press report indicates that there was “information and evidence” obtained during the traffic stop that justified the launching of a drug investigation.
Federal and state agencies then reportedly obtained a warrant to search the man’s residence in Alexander. Authorities allege seizing 6.1 ounces of methamphetamine worth about $15,000. They also report finding purported stolen firearms and drug paraphernalia. Police indicate that more arrests may be made. Criminal defense counsel will be particularly interested in learning the specific details of the traffic stop, including the nature of the violation supporting the stop.
Counsel will also inquire into the basis for questioning the defendant regarding drugs and the justification for searching the suspect and/or his vehicle. Without reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle in the first place, the ensuing arrests for drug crimes would be constitutionally infirm under Arkansas and federal laws. Even if reasonable suspicion existed, moreover, the prosecution would have to prove that there was probable cause to go further and search the vehicle and/or the body of the suspect. Without probable cause to make a search, the stop would be tainted by unconstitutional procedure, and the search warrant to go to the suspect’s residence would be subject to a motion to suppress.
Source: thv11.com, “Multi-agency investigation leads to arrest for methamphetamine and weapon charges”, March 18, 2015