How to Defend a South Carolina Interstate Drug Arrest

It’s inevitable than some drivers traveling through South Carolina are going to face an interstate drug arrests. These cases can involve both suspected violations of state and federal law, and depending on exactly the amount of drugs involved can subject individuals to massive amounts of prison time. Remember, some trafficking charges in South Carolina state court carry a minimum 25 year sentence.

When our lawyers work on an interstate drug arrest case there are three significant legal issues which we always have to focus attention upon. Finding a problem in any one of these can mean the difference between prison time, and a clean slate for our clients.

Did the police have a reason to make the traffic stop?

Many interstate drug arrests are made by police officers specifically focused on these types of cases. They profile, looking for out of state tags and defendants who look a certain way. This can cause them to initiate traffic stops when in some cases they don’t have the legal authority to do so.

In order for the police to initiate a traffic stop they must have a reasonable suspicion that a traffic offense has occurred. For example, if they are going to say that the car was speeding then they need to be able to actually prove that it was. Otherwise it can result in the entire case getting thrown out.

Did the police legally search the car?

Once the car is stopped, the next part of the legal analysis concerns with whether or not the police conducted a valid search of the car. Many vehicle searches are conducted without a warrant, so there needs to be a solid basis for either probable cause or valid consent given for the search.

Sometimes police improperly prolong a traffic stop before starting a drug investigation. They may make a car wait for a drug dog, or they may improperly detain a car while they repeatedly question the occupants. If the search is invalid due to improper police tactics it can result in the entire case getting thrown out.

Is there enough evidence of possession?

All interstate drug charges have as an initial requirement that the person arrested (or ticketed in some cases of marijuana possession), be in possession of the drugs.

Possession can’t be definitely established just because some drugs happen to be somewhere in the car. There must be evidence that the accused 1) knew the drugs where there; and, 2) had the ability to control them.

For example: If there are simply drugs found in the spare-tire well of a rental car, this by itself doesn’t prove that the defendant knew they were there or actually had anything to do with them.

So even if there was a legally justified traffic stop, and even if the police search of the vehicle was legal, you can still beat an interstate drug arrest if there is no or insufficient evidence of possession.

To speak with our drug crime defense lawyer, contact our firm today.

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