What starts out as a basic traffic stop in Indiana can sometimes escalate into a serious criminal matter for the driver or owner of a vehicle. If police officers find prohibited drugs or controlled substances in someone’s vehicle, they will very likely arrest that individual.
Those accused of possession after a traffic stop might feel blindsided, as they may not have even known that the items that police officers found were in the vehicle at all. How can someone accused of drug possession because of drugs discovered during a traffic stop fight back against the charges they’re facing?
By challenging the search of their vehicle
Police officers cannot search anywhere they want just because they suspect possible criminal activity. They need to have probable cause to believe a crime occurred, permission or a warrant. Some people are able to avoid a criminal conviction or even get the courts to dismiss their charges because their lawyer can keep the most dangerous evidence from use in a trial. Proving that officers violated the law or someone’s rights during a traffic stop might prevent the use of evidence gathered by the police during a criminal trial.
By undermining claims of constructive possession
For Indiana prosecutors to convict someone of an offense for illegal items not found on their person or in their actual possession, they must build a claim of constructive possession. If contraband is not directly in someone’s possession at the time that police discover it, the prosecutor will need to establish that the person accused knew about the presence of the prohibited substance and was able to exert control over it. Even if the person arrested cannot conclusively prove who the drugs belong to or how they got in the vehicle, establishing that they were unaware of and therefore had no control over those drugs could help them develop a defense strategy.
It is very common for those accused of drug offenses in Indiana to simply plead guilty, but the state imposes harsh penalties even when someone cooperates with the courts. Looking at every option for defending against drug charges may benefit those recently arrested over something that police found in their vehicle.