Motion to Suppress Illegally Obtained Drugs
The majority of Boston drug crimes stem from traffic stops and pedestrian investigations. However, to use drugs recovered in either of these situations, police officers must establish that they had the legal authority to stop you. If they lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you get the evidence suppressed through a motion to suppress illegally obtained drugs.
Were You Illegally Stopped by the Police?
At the Law Offices of Patrick J. Murphy, Attorney Murphy represents clients facing all types of drug crimes, including simple possession and possession with the intent to distribute. He commands an in-depth understanding of the state’s search and seizure laws and uses this knowledge to keep out illegally obtained evidence.
Police officers are not paid per arrest, but you wouldn’t know that looking at how some of them act when out on the street. Despite the constitutional protections we all enjoy, police officers routinely act on “hunches” and bend the rules when it suits them.
Under both state and federal law, police officers must have a valid reason to stop you, regardless of whether you are walking down the street or driving in a car. However, search and seizure law is incredibly complex and uses very technical terms to describe what they can and cannot do. For example, to arrest someone for a Boston drug offense, police officers need probable cause to believe they committed a crime. However, they need only have a reasonable suspicion that you were involved in criminal activity to stop you. Once an officer stops you, they may have the right to conduct what is called a “pat frisk.”What Is a Stop and Frisk?
Essentially, a pat frisk involves a quick pat down to ensure that you are not armed. Importantly, police officers are not allowed to search the contents of your pockets unless it is immediately apparent that the object they felt was contraband. For example, assume a police officer gets a call reporting a drug deal. The caller’s description of the seller is a male wearing blue shorts and a black shirt. You are walking down the street and, unfortunately, wearing blue shorts and a black shirt. The officer stops you assuming you were the person who was selling drugs. You weren’t; however, you had drugs in a prescription pill bottle in your pocket. As the officer pats you down, they feel the pill bottle and immediately reach in and pull it out.
In this situation, your lawyer may file a motion to suppress illegally obtained drugs arguing that the stop leading to the recovery of the narcotics was in violation of your constitutional rights. In this situation, two main arguments come to mind. First, the description of the drug dealer was not specific; a lot of people may be wearing blue shorts and a black shirt. Nothing you did indicated that you were selling drugs, so the officer was operating on a hunch that you were the person identified by the caller. Thus, the officer may not have had a reasonable suspicion that you were engaged in criminal activity.
Second, an attorney may argue that, even if the officer’s initial approach was permissible, the officer’s search of your pockets was not because it is not immediately apparent that a pill bottle is contraband. Many people carry their prescription medication in pill bottles. If your lawyer was successful in either of these arguments, the judge would determine that the drugs were the result of an illegal stop and order that they cannot be admitted at trial. Without the drugs, the prosecution won’t have a case and will have no choice but to withdraw.Are You Facing a Boston Drug Crime?
If you were recently arrested and charged with a drug crime, the evidence the prosecution intends to use against you at trial may have the product of an illegal search. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy can meet with you to discuss your case and help you determine if you have a motion to suppress illegally obtained drugs. Patrick Murphy has been representing clients charged with serious drug crimes for decades and knows the tricks police officers use to justify bad stops. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, you can reach the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy at (617) 367-0450 or through his online form.