Police in another state recently arrested a 43-year old parolee from Yonkers, New York for drug charges and for assaulting a police officer. Police observed the man was as he walked along a road without a flashlight, about to be struck by a passing car. The officer attempted to talk to the man in the parking lot of a local gas station, but he hit the officer in the face, tried to steal his radio, and took off running.
The officer called for backup and chased the man down, stopping him with his taser. A search of his person turned up 10 baggies of heroin, 7 grams of crack cocaine, and up to $4000 in suspected drug money. After being hospitalized for a foot injury, the man was charged with drug possession, drug trafficking, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest. The officer did not require any medical attention.
Drug trafficking involves the shipment and distribution of drugs across a wide geographic area. In this case, the man was from New York but arrested in Delaware, an indication that he may have transported the drugs from New York for sale in Delaware. Drug trafficking is punished at both the state and federal level, with the severity of the sentence depending on the type of drug, the geographic range of the distribution, and whether children were targeted for sale.
In cases such as this one involving the search of a person for contraband, the Fourth Amendment comes into play. A police officer must either have a valid search warrant to conduct a search, or can also perform a search of the person incident to a valid arrest if the police have probable cause to suspect that contraband may be found. They may also search a suspect’s person for weapons in order to protect their own safety.
Anyone accused of a drug-related offense is entitled to a strong criminal defense and a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants may have the contraband excluded from evidence if it is proven to be the fruit of an illegal search or seizure. New York residents accused of drug trafficking are entitled to fight for their innocence in a court of law.
Source: Dover Post, “New York man jailed on drug, assault charges,” July 21, 2013.