Another traffic stop in Colorado must be carefully investigated by defense counsel to determine whether the arrest of the defendants on drug-related offenses was justified. Based on the press reports, the arrests for felony drug charges are suspicious and may not pass full constitutional muster. However, initial press reports must be themselves viewed suspiciously so that fact collection is always the initial step for defendant’s counsel.
Garfield County Sheriffs stopped a vehicle on Colorado 82 and Garfield County Road recently. They searched the driver and the occupants and allegedly found heroin and methamphetamine on the operator and one of the two occupants. The deputies allege that the driver had 3.8 grams of heroin and about a half gram of methamphetamine, and they arrested him on drug felonies.
The deputies reportedly began suspecting the occupants of concealing drugs while questioning the driver. They arrested the front-seat passenger for carrying a vial of alprazolam, known popularly as Xanax, on felony drug charges. The back-seat passenger was reportedly known to have been in trouble with drugs in the past and was arrested for a slew of serious felony drug charges, including possession with intent to distribute.
If the facts go no deeper than the press report, the arrests are suspect on several fronts. There appears to have been little reason for searching the driver and the occupants based on the described events. There is no reported reason for the stop in the first place; it cannot be made except upon reasonable suspicion of a crime or at least a traffic violation.
Colorado law also prohibits even a rudimentary search of the driver or the occupants without at least the reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. If there were alleged facts justifying the searching of the occupants, they are not stated. Furthermore, the search of a woman’s person or her purse for no reason other than a fishing expedition is unconstitutional. The search of the back-seat passenger because he has been in trouble before is also legally insufficient. Each defendant needs immediate legal representation to quickly prepare and assert any defenses to these suspect felony drug charges.
Source: summitdaily.com, “Colorado Crime: Heroin bust near Glenwood Springs and a syringe stabbing“, Jan. 13, 2017