Authorities in New Jersey have recently taken a 29-year-old woman and a
27-year-old man into custody on suspicion of drug possession. The evidence
against them was allegedly uncovered during the course of a traffic stop
in Hackettstown on June 20. A search of their vehicle allegedly revealed
what police believe to beheroin.
Court records indicate that the woman has a prior conviction for marijuana
distribution in 2008. She was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail and 18
months of probation in relation to that incident.
Both individuals in this case were expected to appear in Superior Court
in Belvidere on June 23. Police officers reportedly found 59 bags of suspected
heroin in their vehicle, but the report does not specify under what circumstances
their car was subjected to a search.
Although automobiles are afforded less constitutional protection than other
forms of personal property like residences, there are still certain procedural
guidelines that must be followed in order for a vehicular search to be
permissible. A defense attorney may wish to review the reason for the
initial traffic stop and why it was transformed into an apparent drug
investigation. Police do not always require a warrant before searching
a vehicle, but in the absence of consent, they must still be able to articulate
the probable cause used to justify their action.
Furthermore, field testing of suspected narcotics is not usually regarded
to be as reliable as laboratory testing, the results of which can take
weeks or even months to obtain. If prosecutors in a case such as this
are unable to amass reliable evidence against a defendant, they may be
willing to reduce their charges.
Source: Le High Valley Live, "Two charged after police find 59 bags of heroin during traffic stop, court
records say", Matthew Bultman, June 23, 2014