Police in Evanston arrested a 21-year-old Chicago man last month after finding incriminating evidence during a routine traffic stop. Patrol officers reportedly stopped the car for a minor traffic violation, at which time they saw a passenger toss out a bag they later found to contain roughly 6 grams of cocaine.
Along with the crack cocaine, police also said they found $8,700 in cash, as well as marijuana. Those items were discovered when the driver was placed under arrested and police searched the car for further evidence of criminal activity. The items were reportedly found in a locked safe belonging to Mohamed. Police used a canine to sniff out the safe to determine whether narcotics were inside.
The driver, it turned out, is a convicted felon. Police arrested and charged him with possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a weapon by a convicted felon, as well as unlawful possession of cannabis. The former are both felonies, while the latter is a misdemeanor.
Vehicle searches are a tricky area to deal with in criminal defense. There are very specific rules governing what police can and cannot do in terms of searching a vehicle. Police have a certain amount of freedom to search vehicles for evidence of criminal activity or to remove potentially dangerous items, there are also limits. When police conduct searches incorrectly, it can compromise a criminal case.
Those charged with crimes on the basis of police searches should consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether the search was legal, and whether or not it could have an impact on the case.
Source: Evanston Patch, “Police Seize $8,700, ‘Crack’ Cocaine During Traffic Stop,” Jennifer Fisher, April 22, 2013.