A traffic violation usually results in a lot of grumbling about having to pay penalties because you forgot to activate your turn signal. Sometimes, however, being stopped by the police can end with serious misdemeanor or felony charges because of what police find during a search of the vehicle.
Police in Kentucky recently stopped a motorist for failing to signal his intention to make a left turn. When the officer approached the vehicle, he claimed to have smelled marijuana coming from the car. The 22-year-old driver of the car admitted that he had smoked marijuana earlier that day. Compounding the driver’s problems was his admission to the officer that marijuana could be found in the center console of his vehicle.
By the time the police officer completed a search of the vehicle, the traffic violation escalated into not just a single criminal charge for possession of marijuana, but he was also charged with other criminal offenses including dealing and possession of paraphernalia, hashish, and other illegal substances. Police also found a large quantity of cash in the vehicle which could be used as evidence at a criminal trial to support the criminal charge of dealing in illegal substances.
The U.S. Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police. Normally, a traffic stop would not give police the right to perform a search the vehicle, but what an officer can see or, as in the case of the unlucky 22-year-old driver, what an officer can smell upon approaching the vehicle can authorize a search.
A Bowling Green criminal defense attorney might be able to challenge evidence seized during a search of a motor vehicle if police failed to follow established rules and procedures. If you have been charged with a crime, representation by an attorney is an important step toward protecting your rights.
Source: WDRB, “Routine traffic stop leads to seizure of pot, $3K in cash,” Oct 5, 2015