It is not uncommon for routine traffic stops to lead to serious criminal charges. Consider the following situation — a North Dakota officer initiates a stop, notes that the driver is behaving strangely and decides to search the car. This happened to a motorist who was subsequently charged with drug crimes. However, a judge recently decided that the evidence collected during that search is not valid.
The driver and his passenger were originally pulled over for driving 2 mph under the posted speed limit. It is not clear why the attending officer originally found this slight deviance from the speed limit suspicious. However, the officer stated that he began to suspect that they were illegally transporting drugs when he realized they were not from the immediate area and did not have any luggage with them. He also claimed that the driver sat too rigidly when spoken to.
A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up 476 pounds of marijuana and related items, and both occupants were charged with possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia. Now, the evidence collected after the stop is no longer admissible and may not be considered during criminal proceedings. The judge who made the ruling said that the officer violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the defendants, which protects individuals against unreasonable search and seizures. He also noted that the officer’s explanation for the search was inconsistent.
Many North Dakota defendants wrongly assume that when they are charged with drug crimes that any and all evidence can be used against them. However, the manner in which evidence is collected is very important. In some cases, evidence might be made inadmissible, clearing the path for defendants to achieve the best possible outcome.