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Albany traffic stop leads to felony drug charges

A taxi driver was pulled over by the Albany County Sheriff Department for allegedly speeding, and the driver was soon after arrested for possession of drugs. Law enforcement authorities claim that the odor of marijuana was noticeable, and police apparently searched the man and discovered what was called a small amount of marijuana in the taxi driver's pocket.

It seems the deputy had then decided to search further. The deputy reported then discovering 24.9 grams of crack cocaine in the driver's pants pocket. The driver was then arrested for third degree criminal possession of controlled substances and fifth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Both of these drug charges are considered felonies.

The driver was also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, and possession and use of drug paraphernalia - both charges considered misdemeanors. Finally, he was issued a citation for speeding.

It's always difficult to know why a traffic stop suddenly escalates into this type of search. Law enforcement officers have at times been accused of looking for excuses to search a vehicle in an attempt to discover evidence of criminal activity.  

We can't know whether that occurred during these circumstances, but searches of vehicles cannot be legally conducted without either a search warrant or probable cause that some sort of criminal activity was taking place at the time the search was conducted.  All of us have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to our homes and our vehicles.  Criminal defense attorneys will defend individuals arrested when that expectation of privacy has been violated.

A conviction for a felony can lead to many years of jail time.  Because the penalties are so severe, it's extremely important that all arrests be conducted in a proper manner.

Source: The Record, "Traffic stop leads to drug arrest in Albany," by Andrew Beam, June 5, 2013

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Lerner & Lerner, P.C.

Former prosecutors with more than 50 years of combined experience

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