Earlier this week, a woman was pulled over for having a tail light out and, after searching the car, police seized a quantity of drugs. According to a report by NWFDailynews.com, the woman was driving along Memorial Highway when the officer stopped her. The officer then allegedly saw two spoons sitting on the floorboard of the car. This, coupled with the fact that the driver was exhibiting “extremely nervous behavior,” led that officer to search the car for narcotics by having a drug-sniffing dog circle the vehicle.
The dog alerted to the presence of narcotics, which gave rise to probable cause for the officer to search the car. Upon doing so, the officer discovered four baggies of heroin and two pills of oxycotin. The search also revealed over $1,800 in banded bills. The woman was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.
When Can an Officer Search a Car for Controlled Substances?
Generally speaking, an officer needs a warrant to search for illegal objects. However, the rules for searching automobiles are relaxed a bit. Nevertheless, an officer still needs what the law calls “probable cause” to search any compartment in the car. Probable cause is a fairly high standard, and one that must be supported by specific facts.
With that said, there are a few exceptions to the probable cause rule. First, consent. If a driver gives an officer consent to search the car, then the officer can search for no other reason than the consent of the driver. This is the case even if the officer “tricked” a driver by making a promise that he didn’t intend to keep.
Another exception to the rule is the use of a drug-sniffing dog. The law does not consider a dog-sniff a search. Therefore, there doesn’t need to be probable cause to support a dog-sniff. Instead, there is the lower standard of “reasonable suspicion.” This can generally be met if the officer has anything more than a “hunch” that the driver has contraband. Once a dog alerts to the presence of narcotics, then the officer has probable cause to get into the car and search for themselves.
Have You Been Charged with a Drug Offense in Florida?
If you have recently been charged with a drug offense in Florida, you need to speak to an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney immediately. In drug cases, if an attorney can get the evidence suppressed based on the illegality of the search, the prosecution will have little left to move forward with and will often drop the case.
The Forbess Law Firm has the experience and dedication required to challenge the evidence the prosecution will attempt to rely on. The Forbess Law Firm has had success suppressing drugs found in homes and automobiles and knows what it takes to get a case dismissed. Click here to contact the Forbess Law Firm online, or call 904-634-0900 today to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney.
See More Blog Posts:
Sunrise Police Officer Resigns After Being Charged With Marijuana Distribution, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, October 7, 2013.
Convicted Murderer Possibly Suffers From New Lethal Injection Concoction, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, October 24, 2013.