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Drug crimes arrest after a traffic stop must be properly handled

A traffic stop in Wisconsin may be the precursor to a drug arrest. Criminal defense counsel will always examine thoroughly the facts surrounding a traffic stop that results in arrests for drug crimes. The procedures used by the police in these incidents must follow constitutional mandates for conducting a search and seizure under state and federal requirements. Where there is a violation of such mandates by the police procedures that are used to make a drug arrest, the defendant can file a motion to suppress the evidence, which, if granted, will usually result in a full dismissal of the charges.

If the police reports are accurate about the circumstances surrounding a recent traffic stop on Interstate 39 at the Cascade Mountain Road exit, the police may not face a difficult challenge to their procedures. The Wisconsin State Patrol reports that an officer stopped a vehicle at that location for a loud exhaust, cracked windshield, dangling fender and a non-working taillight. If those reasons are backed by sufficient proof, the initial stop would be justified, as there was sufficient reasonable cause for it.

The troopers report that, of the five people in the car, none of them had a valid driver’s license. The trooper asked each one to get out of the car and found a bulge in one of the individual’s sock. The bulge turned out to be marijuana. Another trooper found a stolen semiautomatic pistol in a rear compartment.

The one man was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and with bail jumping regarding a theft and burglary charges pending in Dane County. Another man was charged with gun charges. Based on the initial traffic violations and the fact of no driver’s license, the initial pat-down searches may arguably have been justified under Wisconsin and federal precedent, thus validating the drug crimes charge. That would have also allowed for a search of the car, thus justifying the gun charge. Those conclusions are speculative, and the legal issues will be decided by the application of the facts and evidence at the criminal proceedings to follow.

Source:, “Two teens arrested on marijuana and weapons charges“, Jonathan Stefonek, March 14, 2018

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