We try to refrain from highlighting “stupid criminal” stories on this blog. After all, we tend to make our living defending good people who have made questionable choices in their lives. But sometimes there are stories that even make us shake our heads. A story reported by the New York Daily News (nydailynews.com) highlighted a smuggler with a highly unusual cargo.
A man was stopped by border patrol agents in Ontario, Canada. Officials found more than 50 turtles strapped to his body.
The man was crossing from Detroit, Michigan into Windsor, Ontario when agents discovered “irregularly shaped bulges” under the man’s sweatpants. Authorities believed something was afoot when they saw the man collect a package from Alabama that was marked “live fish, keep cool.” They had originally had been tracking the package for a possible smuggling attempt. When the man staked out a post office parking lot, and was seen putting the contents of the package into plastic baggies (which were later discovered to be the turtles), authorities then had reason to confront the man.
While this makes for an entertaining story, it is another example of how police develop probable cause in order to make an arrest. Essentially, officers have probable cause when they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. While this may seem like a subjective standard, it can be challenged by an objective review of the suspect’s actions before the arrest. If it is later found that no probable cause existed, evidence found after an illegal arrest may not be admissible, thus likely leading to a criminal case being dismissed.