A routine traffic stop is often the first stage in an arrest for serious drug offenses. The recent arrest of a Burlington man for a traffic violation is a case in point. Police pulled him over for speeding, only to discover the smell of burning marijuana in the car. They went on to find cocaine, marijuana supplies, packaging equipment, and a substantial quantity of cash. The speeding ticket became an arrest for drug possession, and distribution, and the driver was jailed with bail set at $50,000.
Similar cases are reported all over New Jersey. A Trenton man was stopped for squealing the tires of his Lincoln when he saw a police car getting close to him. The police found crack, a digital scale, and other drug paraphernalia. He was arrested for careless driving and for drug manufacturing, possession, and distribution. His bail was $35,000.
Usually, police need a search warrant to search a suspect’s property, but at a stop for a traffic violation, probable cause, some noticeable evidence indicating that the suspect is engaged in criminal acts, is all the police need. The sight or smell of drugs may be sufficient, as are other suspicious circumstances.
Some suspects react by trying to flee the scene or destroy evidence. A New Jersey man who tried to get rid of a cocaine packet during a traffic stop had a felony count of tampering with physical evidence added to his charges, though he was allowed to plead down to attempted tampering. He received a year in jail.
If you are stopped for a traffic violation that turns into a drug arrest, you need effective, experienced criminal defense counsel. A criminal lawyer can advise you on whether the police followed procedure and whether the search was legal or in violation of your constitutional rights. The skilled attorneys at Sitzler & Sitzler have expertise traffic stops, drug arrests, and all other areas of criminal representation. Contact us today for a consultation by calling (609)267-1101.