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Louisiana man's unpaid speeding ticket leads to drug arrest

Sometimes what starts out looking like a minor incident turns into major legal trouble. Allegations of minor traffic violations can turn into drug charges, with serious consequences.

Recently, police in East Baton Rouge Parish arrested a man in what they described as a marijuana-growing operation. The arrest came about as a result of a roundup of people who had not responded to minor traffic charges or other misdemeanors.

speeding charge. When they arrived at his home, they said they smelled marijuana smoke. Police say the man admitted to them that he had marijuana plants growing in the house. They entered and found at least five marijuana plants along with lighting, temperature controls and other items associated with growing the plants. The man was charged with cultivation and possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

East Baton Rouge Parish police offered an amnesty program in February so that people with outstanding warrants could have a chance to pay traffic fines or outstanding fees without having to pay an additional fee. Those who do not respond to misdemeanor summons and therefore are subject to a bench warrant generally must pay a $50 fee on top of their original fines. When the amnesty program ended, the police began tracking down those with outstanding warrants.

Generally, police need a warrant to stop people and search them, although there are many exceptions to this requirement. However, having a warrant to stop a suspect for not showing up in court to face charges of speeding does not necessarily give the police the right to legally search the suspect's home. Part of building a strong criminal defense strategy is in knowing how to investigate the circumstances of the arrest. When the police have overstepped their authority in the arrest or search, defendants have a good chance of getting the evidence against them thrown out.

Source: The Advocate, "Baker warrant roundup nets drug suspect," James Minton, March 13, 2013

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