Many Baton Rouge residents facing drug charges say that their legal troubles began after being pulled over in their cars for a routine traffic stop. Police sometimes pull over a driver who runs a stop sign or who has a malfunctioning tail light, but in the interaction that follows, they discover drugs in the vehicle, and the driver ends up facing charges for drug possession, or worse.
In a twist on this common scenario, police said they arrested a woman and she now faces numerous charges after she asked for their help when she locked herself out of her car. According to police, the 30-year-old woman asked police at a high school for help after she said she had locked her keys in her car. When approaching the vehicle, police said they smelled marijuana.
According to the police, the woman told them she had smoked marijuana before arriving at the school and showed them where she kept it in the car. She has been charged with drug and drug paraphernalia possession in a drug-free zone, as well as other charges.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits the police from conducting unreasonable searches. Courts generally interpret this to mean that police need a warrant to search people's homes, although that requirement has many exceptions. Police have more leeway when it comes to searching vehicles, but that doesn't mean they necessarily have a right to inspect all parts of a car at a traffic stop. When the police overstep their authority to search homes or vehicles, or to seize a person, the evidence they obtain may be suppressed from trial. Without this kind of evidence, the prosecution's case is weakened and the defendant has a better chance.
Those charged with drug crimes in Louisiana are entitled a defense. A strong defense begins with a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the arrest.
Source: WAFB, "Woman arrested on drug charges after locking herself out of car," Michael Oliver, Oct. 18, 2013