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Serious charges arise from New Jersey man's seatbelt violation

Police put on their lights and sirens and pull drivers over for many different reasons. Speeding, reckless driving, and running a red light can all land a driver on a road's shoulder with a cop at the window. There are some violations that a person can be pulled over for that may not be as common. For instance, if a police officer sees a passenger not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle, he or she can stop the vehicle.

This was the case for two New Jersey men earlier this week. A police officer pulled over a vehicle after noticing the passenger was not wearing his seatbelt. However, while the initial reason for the traffic stop was a seatbelt violation, the passenger ended up facing much more serious charges.

It is unclear how exactly the officer performed an investigation after he pulled over the vehicle. Though, a news report indicates that the officer "located suspected marijuana and Percocet" on the passenger. The report does not detail why the officer suspected the passenger might be in possession of drugs. After finding these drugs on the passenger, the officer arrested the man and took him to jail. The man was later released and given a court date.

Any time a person is pulled over for a standard traffic violation, it is critical that he or she knows the rights an officer has to perform a search of one's body or vehicle. If a traffic stop is for a basic traffic violation, then the officer cannot search the vehicle without probable cause. For example, if the officer can smell marijuana coming from the vehicle or can see marijuana through the car's window, the officer has probable cause to perform a search of the vehicle.

If a person is charged with drug possession after a search during traffic stop like this one, the person facing charges will want to make sure the search was legal. Seeking guidance from a criminal defense attorney could be very beneficial.

Source: Patch.com, "Traffic stop for seatbelt violation leads to drug arrest," Toniann Antonelli, Feb. 13, 2013

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