It is always important for defense counsel in New York to investigate closely the procedures used by police in making drug and contraband arrests in the aftermath of routine traffic stops. State and federal constitutional principles regarding search and seizure are important in that context. There may actually be little chance of finding and proving police irregularities in many traffic stop cases involving drug charges. However, the inquiry should nonetheless be made because there are always at least a small percentage of cases that are dismissed due to poor or improper police procedures.
Drug charges arising from traffic stops always warrant some degree of extra scrutiny by criminal defense counsel. The stop must be for a legitimate traffic violation, and must not be a manufactured, pretextual event. The stop must be conducted for the limited purpose of ticketing the driver for the traffic violation. Turning a limited traffic stop into drug charges in New York or any other state can constitute a violation of Fourth Amendment rights.
There has been an increase in large-quantity heroin busts in New York. These include huge heroin seizures by the task force in New York City and also a number of busts on the upstate highways, all leading to drug charges. Part of the reason for the upswing in arrests is due to the growth recently in the numbers of deaths from heroin overdoses in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Drugs are a serious problem in New York. With this in mind, police may be on the lookout for a reason to be able to stop a driver and conduct a search of his or her vehicle. A simple drive to the store could turn into a legal nightmare. Drug charges can negatively impact an individual's freedom and his or her ability to earn a living. Recently, two individuals were subject to a traffic stop and subsequently arrested for heroin and cocaine possession.