Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Michigan drug case discussing whether police officers had probable cause to arrest the defendant for the distribution of drugs. Ultimately, the court concluded that, while the defendant was not the one selling the drugs, his presence at the scene as well as his conduct, gave officers probable cause to arrest him.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, undercover police officers arranged to buy LSD from a woman at the Electric Forest Music Festival. When officers met up with the woman, she was accompanied by the defendant. The officer shook hands with both the woman and the defendant upon their meeting. The officer then explained that he had never done LSD before, and the defendant chimed in that it was strong and that he should “be careful with it.” As the woman pulled out the LSD to show the officer, officers moved in to arrest both the defendant and the woman.
As officers approached, the defendant tossed a backpack that was later discovered to contain psychedelic mushrooms. The defendant was arrested on several drug offenses. In a pretrial motion to suppress, the defendant argued that his arrest was illegal because there was no reason to believe he was involved in the sale of the LSD. The trial court denied his motion, and the defendant appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion. The court began by citing a line from a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case, explaining that drug dealing “is an enterprise to which a dealer would be unlikely to admit an innocent person with the potential to furnish evidence against him.” Thus, it seems as though the court essentially applied a presumption that anyone who is physically present with another who is selling drugs is somehow involved.
The court went on to explain that the defendant’s conduct supported the belief that he was involved in the sale. For example, the court pointed to the fact that the defendant shook the undercover officer’s hand and then told the officer to be careful with the LSD. The court also noted that an officer witnessing the interaction believed the defendant to be involved, based on his interactions with the undercover officer. Thus, the court determined that the arresting officers had probable cause to arrest the defendant, and when he threw his bag immediately before his arrest, he abandoned it, allowing the officers to search it without further justification.
Have You Been Arrested for a Michigan Drug Crime?
If you have recently been arrested for a Michigan drug crime, contact the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Michigan Defense Law. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers have decades of collective experience providing clients with the aggressive defense they need and deserve when facing serious allegations. We handle all types of criminal cases, including gun crimes, drug offenses, allegations of domestic violence, and more. To schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, call 248-451-2200.