As an attorney that has helped many clients in their criminal defense, I understand the importance of reviewing police procedures for impropriety. For example, a recent story reminds us that sometimes even a routine traffic stop or communication with an officer can escalate into much more serious charges.

In this instance, a 25-year-old New Jersey man was stopped on a recent Monday morning. Unfortunately, the officer discovered that the man had a suspended license. Yet the search didn’t end there. The officer allegedly noticed a jar containing a substance resembling marijuana in the glove box. That led to a search of the vehicle, during which officers discovered a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun. The weapon was loaded and hidden under the passenger seat. In sum, the man was charged with multiple weapons and drug offenses.

Sometimes a strong defense includes a procedural challenge under the Fourth Amendment. Individuals generally have a constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, subject to certain exceptions or a warrant. Whether there was probable cause for the various searches in today’s story requires a more detailed investigation of the arrest record and factual context.

I understand the importance of a strong criminal defense. An arrest, even if unaccompanied by a conviction, might lead to the loss of an accused’s job. If accompanied by a conviction, the consequences might be even more severe, as a criminal record might interfere with future job opportunities. Although societal attitudes may slowly be changing, marijuana offenses remain among the most common criminal charges in New Jersey. The type of offense might be handled either in the municipal or criminal court system. Yet there may be options, such as New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, or PTI. Check out my firm’s website to learn more about such defense strategies.

Source: WBAL, “Man faces weapons charges after Severn traffic stop,” Saliqa Khan, July 27, 2015