After pulling a car over in North Carolina, the police discovered that a person in that car had drugs. This person was then arrested, police found more drugs in his apartment, and the case went to trial. That court found that the police did not do anything wrong during the search, so an appeal was made, and the appeals court found just the opposite, saying that the police were not within their rights to carry out an apartment search. To get a final ruling, the state’s Supreme Court is going to have to weigh in.
So, why was there so much controversy? The issue is that the police were clearly looking for the drugs and used the traffic stop as an excuse to carry out a further search of the man’s apartment. They were watching the apartment, already believing drugs were on the premises, and they followed the man when he left.
In order to do the search, the officers waited for the driver to break the law. As soon as they saw a minor traffic violation, they had reason to pull the car over, which opened the door to the drug search. After locating those drugs on the man, they then went to his apartment to look for more, and they found both drugs and guns.
The man’s argument is that the traffic stop was legal and that he should face charges for the drugs he had on him, but that the police did not have probable cause to believe he had more drugs in the apartment, making that search illegal.
It’d very important not only to know your own rights, but to know what regulations the police have and how they may break the law when obtaining evidence.
Source: Indy Week, “N.C. Supreme Court to hear search and seizure case today” John H. Tucker, Mar. 09, 2015