R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Fleeing passenger charged with drug delivery offense

When police stop a vehicle for violation of the traffic laws, it may not be the driver who ends up being charged with violating the law. That is what happened recently when police stopped a car in San Angelo, Texas, and arrested a passenger on drug delivery charges after he got out of the car and attempted to flee. Police did not arrest the driver and another passenger.

Police traffic stops are often a pretext to investigate other, more serious offenses. Police do not have the right under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to stop a car without reasonable cause to believe the driver has violated the law. A violation of the traffic laws gives the police the right to stop the vehicle and talk to the driver and other occupants of the vehicle. Sometimes, as in the San Angelo incident, an occupant makes the police officer's job easier by attempting to flee the scene and dropping a gun and drugs as he does so.

The San Angelo man was arrested after a field test determined that the substances he threw away while running tested positive for methamphetamine; officers also recovered a handgun that the suspect tossed away as he ran.

Drug offenses are often based on evidence obtained as a result of a search and seizure by police. A criminal defense attorney representing a defendant under the facts and circumstances of this case would make the seizure of the gun and the drugs the focus of his drug charge defense. Another issue that becomes important in drug manufacturing and drug delivery charges is the weight of the illegal substance in the possession of the suspect. Challenging the ounces of the illegal drug seized from the suspect can affect the severity of the punishment to which the accused person is exposed.

Source: San Angelo Standard-Times, "Traffic stop yields arrest on drug firearm charges," Dec. 5, 2012

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