Chicago officers reportedly found 350 pounds of marijuana during the search of a home in the Southwest Side, which led to the arrest on Saturday of a 22-year-old man who has now been charged with felony possession of marijuana. The home search was reportedly based on a traffic stop conducted earlier this month. During that stop, officers found almost two pounds of marijuana. Sources didn’t indicate the connection between the individual whose vehicle they searched and the man who was arrested on Saturday.
Search and seizure, of course, is a very important issue when it comes to drug crimes. Police are bound by various rules when it comes to searching a suspect’s person, vehicle or home. Failure to abide by these rules can result in tainted evidence and a tainted prosecution.
Under the Fourth Amendment, police officers generally have to have a search warrant before conducting a search. There are certain exceptions to that rule, but the initial question when determining legality is always whether police actually conducted a search.
For a search to actually be a search, the general rule is that the suspect must have had a personal expectation of privacy, and that expectation must have been reasonable. Case law has laid out various precedents for specific scenarios, and those charged with a drug crime do well to work with an attorney who has a firm grasp on the law.
If a search has actually been conducted, the next question is whether a warrant was required. In general, warrants are required, but in some cases exceptions apply. In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Cops: Chicago drug bust yields nearly 350 pounds of marijuana,” Adam Sege, January 26, 2014.