Traffic stops in Pennsylvania are a substantial source of drug arrests and prosecutions. When the authorities question a driver stopped on an alleged traffic violation, they may observe suspicious activity that can lead to a reasonable suspicion, and then probable cause, to make an arrest for drugs. Criminal defense attorneys are adept at investigating such circumstances to determine if the police went over the bounds of constitutional propriety in their procedures.
In a recent traffic stop on Route 17 in Monroe, state police officers say that they detected the odor of marijuana while talking to the driver, a 37-year-old male. The officers allegedly found marijuana in his possession and arrested him for a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of marijuana. They charged him also with unlawful possession of a small amount of marijuana, which is a lesser offense.
Police also searched and arrested the passenger, a 33-year-old female. Police allegedly found a large amount of Ecstasy, along with narcotic pills and marijuana on the woman. They charged her with felony possession drug charges, misdemeanor possession and unlawful possession of a small amount of marijuana. In Pennsylvania, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug along with cocaine, heroin and other dangerous drugs.
Possession of a marijuana in Pennsylvania can result in a substantial prison sentence based on the amount of the drug that was possessed. The law recognizes the lesser offense of unlawful possession of 30 grams or less of pot, which is punishable by up to 30 days and/or a $500 fine. Despite the state's passage of a medical marijuana law, it still has in place lengthy prison sentences for marijuana offenses, depending on the amount proved to be possessed.
As in all traffic stops, the state must prove that the police had the right to pull over the vehicle in the first place. Criminal defense counsel will press to show that the police did not have probable cause to conduct a full body and vehicle search under the circumstances. Pennsylvania and federal constitutional principles must be followed and proved by the Commonwealth before accused persons can be found guilty of a criminal offense.
Source: recordonline.com, "2 arrested on drug charges after early morning traffic stop on Rte. 17", Richard J. Bayne, Dec. 23, 2017