When Do Police Have The Right To Search Your Backpack For Drugs?
If you are going to travel across state lines with illegal drugs, it would appear that you have a better chance of getting away with it if you travel by bus. Given all the security scanners and baggage inspections at airports, it is difficult to bring drugs onto a plane undetected. If you travel by car, no one will notice your drugs unless the police pull you over because your tail light burns out, because some other driver cuts you off and causes an accident, or just because they feel like it. On a bus, though, people might assume that you do not have anything of value with you. After all, people travel by bus when they cannot afford a plane ticket or a car. This month, police in Pittsburgh arrested a bus traveler whose backpack contained a stash of drugs with a street value big enough to pay off the combined debts of every passenger on the bus. If you are facing criminal charges after police found drugs in your backpack, contact a Pittsburgh drug crimes lawyer.
Consent Is as Good as a Search Warrant
Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the circumstances under which police have the right to search your property are very limited. In order to enter your residence and search its contents, they must have a search warrant, which a judge will only issue after officers have provided specific information about the evidence they expect to find and why they expect to find it in your house. If you are out in public, police generally cannot search your backpack or purse, either. Cars are a special case; if events during a traffic stop give an officer probable cause for a search, the officer has as much of a right to search the car as if a judge has issued a search warrant. If a police officer asks for your consent to search your property, you have the right to say no. If the officer searches despite your refusal to consent, the resulting evidence may be inadmissible in court. If you consent to a search, your consent has the same legal effect as a search warrant. You cannot withdraw consent for a search after you have given it.
In the News
Earlier this month, Yan Cepeda rode a Greyhound bus from New York City to Pittsburgh. Some police officers with K-9s were at the bus station in Pittsburgh, and they noticed that Cepeda was trying to keep his distance from them, so they approached him. Cepeda consented to a search, and the officers found approximately 450,000 doses of fentanyl in his backpack. If the drugs were combined into lethal doses, they could kill tens of thousands of people. The stash has an approximate street value of $1.6 million.
Contact Gary E. Gerson About Drug Cases
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of illegal possession of fentanyl or other controlled substances. Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.