There’s a popular fictional story about a lawyer who works out of his luxury Lincoln. In real life, police in Louisiana recently arrested a man accused of operating his drug business out of his Cadillac Escalade. The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested the 41-year-old male suspect on drug charges and accused him of selling drugs from his SUV.
The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the DEA. The agencies reportedly received tips about the man’s mobile drug business that was generally being run near Louisiana 1048 in Arcola. Police believe that the man was selling large amounts of cocaine from his vehicle. They pulled him over in a traffic stop and arrested him.
The man, who apparently resides in conventional housing in Roseland, was arrested on a drug possession charge for about five grams of marijuana. Police also charged him with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, namely 114 grams of powder cocaine. Reportedly, he also had $8,900 cash in the Cadillac.
Probable cause for a stop may be established by tips from informants but there are circumstances where the tips are not substantial or reliable enough to suffice. Thus, the probable cause issue must be investigated by the accused man’s defense counsel. Defense counsel should determine precisely what information the police knew to justify making a stop and search. The reports by police indicate that the accused was arrested ‘during a traffic stop’. This seems to indicate that police did not obtain an arrest or search warrant prior to stopping and searching the vehicle.
Under Louisiana and federal law, police procedure in bringing drug charges must always be meticulously studied and evaluated. The evidence may be the product of an illegal stop and search, and may be subject to exclusion on a motion to suppress. It sometimes happens that the police act on mere speculation from unknown tips and stop the vehicle without probable cause. Furthermore, it’s also generally necessary to seek a warrant and fill out an affidavit of probable cause in front of a judicial officer prior to making a stop or search that is not done in exigent, emergency circumstances.
Source: The Times-Picayune, “Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office arrests man in Arcola accused of selling cocaine out of his SUV,” John Harper, July 3, 2013