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
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.