What happens if the police accuse me of having drugs in my vehicle?
Colorado officials take illegal possession of drugs seriously. There are multiple task forces throughout the state that work to address this issue. One example is the Gore Range Narcotics Interdiction Team (G.R.A.N.I.T.E.), a multi-jurisdictional task force that focuses on drug crimes. Colorado enforcement officers recently partnered up with this task force during a traffic stop.
The officers state they conducted the stop because they observed the vehicle weaving down I-70 near Avon. When approaching the vehicle, the police state they noticed evidence of further criminal activity and called in a drug dog to search the vehicle. The K-9 alerted at the rear of the vehicle. After checking this area, the police discovered Methamphetamine, Heroin, and Fentanyl in the gas tank of the vehicle.
The police arrested the driver and charged him with multiple criminal charges including distribution of a schedule 1 controlled substance and possession of a schedule 1 controlled substance. In these types of situations, the prosecution will likely look for the possibility of additional criminal charges like drug distribution and money laundering. In this specific case, the driver faces a mix of misdemeanor and felony charges.
The case serves as an opportunity to discuss how these types of cases unfold. It is not uncommon for officers to find drugs in a vehicle during a traffic stop. Three important things to know in these types of situations include:
#1. Drugs in your vehicle are your problem.
Your vehicle is your property, so if the police find illegal substances in the car they will likely try to move forward with criminal charges. There are defenses to these charges. It is possible that the driver was unaware of the drugs or that the police did not follow proper protocol when gathering evidence. In either case the state could review the argument and choose to agree to reduce the charges or throw them out.
#2: Police can search your vehicle.
Police can generally search a vehicle if they have probable cause. In some situations, an officer may use the behavior of a driver or the presence of evidence that they see inside the vehicle through the windows to satisfy the requirement for probable cause to conduct the search.
The rules guiding what is and is not allowed are complicated and can vary by jurisdiction, so it is a good idea to have an attorney review the case to see if the police followed the rules. Again, as noted above, if the police did not follow proper protocol, it can impact their case against you.
#3. These laws are constantly evolving.
The laws around drug possession are changing. Colorado law recently changed to allow possession of a certain amount of marijuana but carry too much and you can still face criminal charges. Lawmakers can change these laws. As such, it is wise to make sure your defense strategy takes any changes into account.