"The criminal justice process": we talk about this a lot on this blog, and for good reason. There are steps in any criminal case that both the police (local or federal) and the defendant (or defendants) must follow to prove their side of the incident in question. If either side deviates from the process, it can result in a quick guilty verdict or the dismissal of a case (depending on the deviation).
For one 19-year-old, he owes his life to this fact.
The young man was driving along when a police officer pulled him over. The officer claimed that the 19-year-old was travelling 84 miles per hour. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer noticed that the young man was nervous. He rejected the officer's request to search the vehicle, and the canine unit was ultimately called in to investigate the vehicle.
The dog indeed found drugs: about 24 grams of cocaine and 52 grams of marijuana (in addition to other drugs), sizeable amounts that had the 19-year-old facing 75 years in prison on federal drug charges.
However, none of it would have been found if the young man had actually committed a traffic violation.
Details in the case were not released, but the defense made a suppression motion on the evidence against the defendant. The motion said that police officers did not witness a traffic violation, nor did they have probable cause to stop the 19-year-old. Shortly after the motion, the case was completely dropped.
Even though the details in this story indicate a slam dunk drug case, the police did not uphold the law and they did not respect every citizen's right to privacy. Imagine if a cop pulled you over, just because. And all he wanted to do was search your vehicle to try and pin a crime on you. You would be outraged by the prospect of such a thing, right?
Well, in many ways, that is what happened to this 19-year-old. He may have been involved with something illegal -- but his civil rights were violated in the process of uncovering any possible crimes he was committing.
Source: York News-Times, "Drug case dismissed," Nov. 19, 2012
- To learn more about drug crimes and the criminal justice process, please visit our Hartford drug possession page.