The Baton Rouge Police Department recently stopped a vehicle in an attempt to find a suspect. Instead of locating the intended target, officers made an arrest of two individuals on unrelated drug charges.
Police officers conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle in the hopes of finding a suspect from another case that was reported in a similar vehicle. Upon approaching the vehicle, officers purportedly smelled marijuana coming from the car. While the intended suspect was not located in the vehicle, the policemen did notice an open can of beer in one of the occupants’ possession. After a search of the vehicle, officers allegedly discovered a small bag of marijuana in one occupant’s pants pocket, as well as hidden within the driver’s seat. Additionally, the other male supposedly had a total of 11 bags containing 18.8 grams of marijuana. Both men were arrested. Upon arriving at the jail, a strip search of the suspects revealed 10 additional bags of marijuana discovered in one suspect’s underpants.
Many individuals are aware that officers cannot search a vehicle until certain requirements have been met. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens’ rights by prohibiting an unreasonable search and seizure of a person or his effects. In order for officers to conduct a search and seizure, probable cause must exist to warrant the action.
Probable cause can be established through factual evidence, observation or even information derived from witnesses. Although there is no specific check on probable cause before an arrest occurs, an arresting officer needs to be able to prove to a judge after the fact that sufficient cause existed at the time. Consequences for failing to show adequate probable cause for an arrest or a search and seizure can result in the evidence being excluded from the courtroom in subsequent proceedings against a defendant.
Source: WAFB, “Man arrested on drug charges had marijuana in his underpants,” Matthew Fryou, Dec. 19, 2014