This is the next post in our series discussing prescription drug charges in the state of Arkansas. Our last article discussed how search and seizure laws impact prescription drug cases. In this post we will discuss how your lawyer may still be able to help if you were arrested for prescription drug possession after consenting to a search of your vehicle.
Arkansas law enforcement may not intimidate or coerce a suspect into giving consent to search their vehicle
It may sound obvious to say that a person who knows that they may have an illegal substance in their vehicle should not freely give a police officer permission to search their car. However, a large percentage of drug arrests following a traffic stop occur in the state of Arkansas because of exactly that. Why would a person provide consent to a search when they know that doing so may lead to their arrest? The answer is that, in the heat of the moment, many people do not feel that they have a choice. If an officer asks you to step outside of the car, places you on the hood of your vehicle and touches his weapon, or uses other intimidating tactics while asking for consent, then a citizen may not feel that they are free to say “no.” The fact, however, is that a person is free to refuse consent to a search of their vehicle.
The police are not required to emphasize the fact that a citizen may refuse to have their vehicle searched and will do what the can to gain that consent. Arkansas officers performing a traffic stop may very well be thinking of ways to potentially make an arrest and not about how to do the suspect any favors. However, many officers cross the line and gain a consent to search through illegal methods. When this happens then your criminal defense attorney can often get the search consent thrown out of Court. When the consent is thrown out of Court then any evidence found against you is also not admissible and possession charges typically will not proceed.
Persons charged with prescription drug possession in Arkansas should not plead guilty without speaking to an attorney
The biggest mistake that a person who has been arrested following a “voluntary” vehicle search makes is deciding to plead guilty or no contest because they do not believe they have a case. By consulting with a criminal defense attorney you can determine whether or not the officer coerced you into giving consent. Many people are so scared during their arrest that they do not even realize that the way they were treated was in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Your lawyer will go over the details of your entire traffic stop with you and ask you specific questions about the officer’s behavior and how it made you feel. They will inquire as to whether you asked the officer any questions as well as any responses the officer may have provided. They may also ask you about the neighborhood you were arrested in, the time of night, if you felt safe, and other circumstances of your traffic stop.
If you provided consent to a vehicle search and were arrested on suspicion of prescription drug possession then do not assume that your case is open and shut. Consult with a criminal defense attorney prior to taking any action. Contact our Little Rock, Arkansas office to schedule an initial consultation.