Be ready for a battle in the courtroom
To get a guilty verdict for a suspect in a drug interdiction case, be ready to withstand the scrutiny of the lawyers, judges, and possibly a liberal jury
Years ago, it was pretty simple. Getting a conviction on a suspect for hauling a car full of dope across the country was a case that practically made itself, and the steps in the path were relatively straightforward. An officer sees a vehicle commit a traffic violation, stops the car, asks for (and receives) verbal consent to search the car. The officer discovers the load of dope, arrests all the occupants of the vehicle, and then sits on the witness stand and testifies to the these facts. Not too long after giving that testimony, “BAM!”, a guilty verdict follows — sometimes only a few minutes later!
But in today’s times — in an age where everything is captured and posted on YouTube — highway drug interdiction cases in the courtroom are a little more complex. Blame it on the ever increasing liberal judges in the judicial system. Blame it on bad K-9 searches or cops doing searches without probable cause. Blame it on one (or a handful) of jurors in a case that are on a prescription for “medical marijuana.” Whatever you blame it on, now more than ever before, we are seeing an increasing number of perps walking on “not guilty’ verdicts even thought they were, no doubt about it, hauling 50 kilos of coke, or some
Nowadays, to get a guilty verdict in a highway drug interdiction case, you had better be able to withstand the scrutiny of the lawyers, judges, and possibly a liberal jury. The officer better be prepared to tackle tough questions like:
Some of this sounds a little bit tongue in cheek, and it is. There’s nothing wrong with using a little humor to get my point across. The fact of the matter is that those abovementioned questions MUST be in your mind WHILE you’re making the stop. If not, you can almost bet your interdiction case will result in one of those frustrating, heartbreaking “not guilty” verdicts.
Recent cases such as Arizona vs. Gant have made it more and more difficult to succeed in court. However, it is still possible. If you are an interdiction officer out on America’s Highways still bustin’ the big loads, don’t give up. We as cops know we are making a difference. We in law enforcement will continue to do our jobs within the scope of the law, whatever the courts decides that is.
And we will get all this for you while we are standing on this busy highway in the middle of the night alone. We will get it for you while we are trying not to get run over by another car, shot at, jumped by the perpetrator, or take an unreasonable amount of time to conduct a felony criminal investigation.
Why? Because no matter what direction our country is going, we are the good guys, and despite increasing efforts to “tie our hands” we will continue to play within the rules, and we will continue to be successful, and, most importantly, we will continue to take illegal drugs off of the streets, and out of the hands of our children.
So, next time you arrest a dope hauler and he tells you he’s gonna get off in court, just give him a smirk — you know, a little half smile — while you’re double locking those cuffs behind his back, and tell him to “bring it.”
You smile and you say that because you know, you absolutely know, that you’ve got answers to all those questions. You’ve got the paperwork, the video, the audio, and the law to back you up. Post your comments and experiences below, tell us what you think.
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